By Sue S. <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Submitted: January, 2007
Summary: Clark keeps his promise. Fourth in a series. This occurs at the end of "Wall of Sound" in the second season.
Many thanks to my cyber twin, DJ. She read every draft of this part and still managed to be enthusiastic each time I sent her a new version.
Clark came back to the table and carefully set the Kerth award down between Perry and Lois. Perry beamed at him and Lois reached out to trace one finger over where his name was engraved in the Lucite.
"It looks good with your name on it, doesn't it?" she said, tilting her head back to smile up at him.
"Yes," he agreed and held his hand out to her. "Would you like to dance?"
Her smile widened. "Yes," she said, taking his hand.
He closed his fingers around hers, enjoying the simple sensation of her hand in his as he led her to the dance floor. He half-feared that she might pull her hand away at any moment. The fact that she didn't sent his mind spinning.
As they began dancing she moved even closer and her hand slid from his shoulder to rest midway up his back, causing her breast to press enticingly against his chest. She smiled up at him. "Can I apologize again for being so petty the past few days?"
"No apology necessary."
"Yes, it is. I really am happy for you, Clark. You deserved to win."
"Thanks." He could feel a blush beginning to stain his cheeks. He flexed his fingers where they lay low on her back. He had touched the velvet of her skin there only a couple of months ago — as Superman. He had also promised her that he would ask her to dance the next time they were at a social function.
She had asked if he would tell her his secret at the same time. He never actually agreed to do so and the longer he held her the more he dreaded her reaction if he did say something. He couldn't do it. He couldn't tell her. He had rehearsed this scenario time and again in his mind so he already knew how it would go.
He would whisper, "Lois, it's me, Kal-El." She would look up at him, momentarily confused, then stunned, and then angry.
Not tonight. He couldn't do it tonight. Not when she was in his arms and smiling at him. He had only promised that he would ask her to dance, not that he would confess. The fact that she was obviously enjoying dancing with him this time around was all the more reason not to ruin the moment.
"Didn't you tell me once that you learned to dance in London?" she asked.
"No," he shook his head, letting the fingers of his right hand glide up from her waist until his index finger brushed over the bare skin above the back of her dress. "I told you that I learned from a Nigerian princess who had studied ballroom dance in London."
Her eyes twinkled mischievously at him and, he noted with hope, she hadn't called him on where his hand now rested.
"So you know how to ballroom dance?" she teased.
"Uh, not really," he laughed. "I only know the basics." He stepped back, guiding her into a spin before pulling her close against him again. This time his hand lay squarely over the exposed skin above the back of her dress. She had to know that was deliberate. Would she let him get away with it?
"Can you dip?" Her head tilted back to watch him, her eyes aglow with amusement.
"Of course," he told her. "But not on the first date."
She tipped her head back and laughed, giving him a rush of heat low in the pit of his stomach. "But this isn't our first date, is it? Didn't you go to the White Orchid Ball with me last year?"
"You said that that wasn't a date," he reminded her.
"Hmph," she sniffed dismissively. Feeling emboldened by how close he was holding her, she drew their clasped hands towards them until the back of his fingers were brushing against the bare skin of her right shoulder. "What about next year?"
"Sure. Isn't that how this is going to work? You only take me out once a year? Will you dip me next year?" She fluttered her eyelashes at him.
"Do you have your heart set on it?"
"Yes," she laughed. "I think I do." The last word was lost in a squeal when he dipped her. "Oh my gosh," she gasped when she was standing vertically again. "You might have warned me!"
"Where would the fun be in that?" Clark asked, giddy at the press of her thigh against his.
Lois smiled back at him, knowing that she was giving in to his charm and not caring. "Are you having fun, Clark?"
"Yes, of course. How could I not? I'm dancing with the most beautiful woman in the world."
She looked away, feeling the heat on her cheeks. "Oh, please."
"It's true. I'm the envy of every man here. Especially Hal. I think he has a crush on you."
Lois glanced over at Hal, sitting at the table next to theirs. It was true that he did seem to sit next to her at press conferences with amazing regularity. Hal glanced away as soon as he saw she was looking in his direction. She looked back up at Clark. "Hal Richen? I don't think so."
"No," she laughed. "There's only one man who has a chance with me."
"Superman?" he teased.
"Not tonight," she told him, her eyes sparkling. "Unless he just won the Kerth, too."
"So it's the Kerth that's making me irresistible?"
His tone was light and teasing, but the words sent a worried flutter through her. God help her, she wanted him. It had nothing to do with the Kerth — it was just because he was Clark. No one had ever looked at her the way Clark did. No one else had ever danced with her or held her like this either. It wasn't the Kerth. It was the man himself that was irresistible. The heat of his hand on her back was making her woozy, sending her thoughts in directions that she had tried so carefully to avoid.
"Maybe," she told him coyly. "And if I'll dance with you because of the Kerth, imagine what a Pulitzer would get you."
Clark thought about teasing her that he'd never wanted to win a Pulitzer until just that moment. He dipped her again instead, setting loose a string of giggles from her.
When he brought her back up from the dip she settled closer against him, her forehead now rested ever-so-tentatively against his chin. Her hand moved to the middle of his back in a deliberate embrace.
"Clark?" she murmured. He had to close his eyes at the intimate way he heard and felt her say his name at the same time.
"I really am happy for you." Her fingers squeezed his as her other hand moved higher, to the back of his neck, and drew his face a little closer to hers. "I think you're an amazing writer."
"Thank you," he said, feeling like the words had become caught in his throat. "That really means a lot to me — coming from you."
"Hmmm," Lois murmured, giving in to the crazy urge to rest her head against Clark's shoulder. She closed her eyes to lose herself fully in the moment. Just for tonight, she told herself. Just one night to give in to the daydreams she sometimes had about him. What would he say if he learned that he was quickly replacing Superman in her idle fantasies? At this moment, with his body swaying against hers while his hand lay in a half-caress against her back, it was hard to think of reasons why she shouldn't want Clark.
As the song ended she went on tiptoe to whisper in his ear, "It wasn't the Kerth. I would have danced with you anyway." She sucked up her courage and leaned closer, pressing her lips softly against his in a brief kiss. "That was for the Kerth," she told him as she stepped away, her lips still tingling from the warmth of his.
"I hope I win next year." He searched her eyes, trying to gauge how much weight he should give that kiss.
"You know what?" She grinned at him. "I hope you don't."
"Are you afraid I'll try to dance with you again?" he asked, taking her hand to walk back to the table with her.
"Why would I be afraid of that?" Her fingers squeezed his. "I just hate to lose, even to you."
"Are you more magnanimous then, in victory?" he teased.
"Of course," she answered mockingly. "Although if you really want to get lucky, you should pray that I win."
"So I'm only sort of lucky tonight?" he pressed.
"Clark, I just picked you over Superman. How much more did you want from me?"
His features changed, his eyes becoming serious. "I couldn't ask for anything more than that, could I?" he asked softly and let go of her hand to pull her chair out for her.
Lois stuttered on her reply and fell silent. Uneasiness flowed through her as she tried to decipher why it was that her mind was clamoring that she had just stumbled across something big. She sat down heavily, still trying to place the source of her apprehension as Clark took his seat next to her.
"Is something wrong?" he asked quietly.
She shook her head and her scattered thoughts disappeared with the gesture. "No, nothing's wrong."
She picked up his Kerth award, hefting its slight weight in her hands as she read his name over and over in her mind. Clark Kent, Clark Kent, Clark Kent…
The same irritating niggle as before worried at her. Was it jealousy? Was she really going to be petty because he had won over her this year? Was that was this was about?
It's his name, she thought. There was something about his name. Not the way it looked on the award — it was the way it sounded. She looked over at him, surprised to find him watching her warily.
"Say your name," she said softly.
"What?" His eyes definitely looked anxious now. "Why?"
"Your name," she repeated. "I just want to hear how you say your name."
"Lois…" he started.
She gave an impatient sigh. "Not my name. Your name. Right here." She indicated his name on the award. "Just read it to me, for crying out loud."
"Clark Kent," he said obediently.
Lois rolled her eyes, feeling embarrassed suddenly that she had asked him to do it. Why? She had heard and said his name countless times. There was nothing inherently special in the sound of it, no matter who said it or how. It was the man himself that made the name remarkable. Obviously she should have never had that second glass of wine with dinner.
Clark Kent. Clark Kent. Clark Kent. The name rolled around in her head until it was just a collection of meaningless syllables.
She set the award down on the table and shrugged away her discomfort.
Clark Kent. It was a great name. And it looked good on that award. She said his name in her head again and grinned. Clark Kent — she had just kissed him.
She made a silent promise to herself that she'd kiss him again — soon.
For the purposes of this story, the end of 'Wall Of Sound' happened in the same way. Superman came by and Lois gave him the white rose and kissed his cheek. That will matter later. <heh>