Pushing Buttons

By Sara Kraft <skfolc@gmail.com>

Rated PG

Submitted October 2007

Summary: Lois and Clark, trapped in an elevator late at night… Lois is angry… What else could possibly go wrong? Or, perhaps, right?

Author's Note: I had five full weeks to complete this ficathon story. Mel, my muse, has been on vacation in unknown, but surely exotic, locations for months on end. Weeks went by without notice, and I was positive I'd have to fly solo. So, I attempted to start writing something on my own. I probably have about a dozen crappy false starts saved on my hard drive. I was doomed.

All this week, I stabbed angrily at all the false starts, willing one of them to move. None of them did. I watched guiltily as, one by one, other ficathon stories got posted. The deadline was looming nearer and nearer, and I had nothing. I knew I couldn't fail at this, though. I'd be lynched and drummed out of the fandom. *g* So last night (when I thankfully had no homework to do), I sat down to poke at the false starts again.

Well, lo and behold, Mel poked her head out and said, "Oooh! Fight? I can do a fight! Watch me go!" And she did. For almost 3000 words! And thank god, because I'd have been screwed otherwise. *g*

Okay, I'll stop with the rambling and get to the serious stuff.

This ficathon story was written for my dear friend Lisa aka MrsMosley. She wanted something angsty with Lois and Clark as a couple. (You think that would have been a piece of cake for me to write, but no. *sigh*) There should be more than enough angst in there for ya, Lisa, and none of that pesky kid or Lex stuff. ;)

I'd like to thank a few people. First off, I'd like to thank Mel for coming back in the nick of time, and I pray she sticks around for a while this time. (I think she takes bribes, guys. ;)) Then there are my own personal superheros, who like to be known as Paul aka HatMan, Julie Stars, Saskia, and A Random Sexy Bloke (who's currently in the Witness Protection Program for undisclosed reasons ;)). They all volunteered to do some much needed, last-minute beta-reading. (How on earth I manage to find four betas on such short notice, I'll never know.) And I love them all for it!

Thanks, too, to Erin for a quick and friendly GE job!

Bonus points to Paul, who was the only one of the five of us (crazy and sleep-deprived folcs) to come up with a passable title.


"Lois, would you at least talk to me?"

Lois jabbed the down button for the elevator and stood in fuming silence. "Why does this stupid elevator always take forever?"

The question wasn't addressed to him, even though he pathetically wished it had been. He'd give anything to have her at least acknowledge his presence.

There was a ding announcing the elevator's arrival, and he held the door for her, gesturing for her to enter first. She threw a glare at him before making her way to the far left and back of the car. He sighed and followed her in, thankful there weren't more than a handful of people left in the newsroom at this late hour to bear witness.

She'd glared *at* him, though. That was a start.

Begging hadn't been working. Adding fuel to the fire was dangerous, but… "You can't stay mad forever," he baited.

"Oh, yes, I can." She didn't look his way.

There, he couldn't mistake that being directed at him, at least.

"But — " he tried to protest.

"Watch me." How did she manage both fire and ice in her tone?

He tried a different tack; he took one, two steps toward her, closing the distance between them by half. His heart sank a little more at the nearly imperceptible flinch she made at his movement. He dared another step.

"Stop." The fire was gone, as well as the ice. He hated the slight tremor of fear that'd replaced them.

He held his hands up to mark his defeat. "I just want to… If you'd just let me —"

"Explain? You want to explain?" She turned on her heel towards him and gave him a challenging stare.

Before he could open his mouth to respond, she'd jerked the emergency stop on the elevator, and they came to an immediate halt.

"Go ahead and explain." She crossed her arms over her chest. "Tell me just what was so important that you had to leave last night. Tell me why you didn't answer your phone. Tell me why I spent the night half worried sick about you and half wondering what the hell I could have done to make you loathe my presence so much."

He winced and his mind flashed to the mangled metal and smashed glass. The torn flesh and the… He hadn't been in time anyway. Everything had gone wrong last night. And now he was frozen to the spot, certain there was nothing he could say to make anything right.

She huffed and reached for the stop button again, but he caught her hand. She was trembling, but hiding it extremely well under the circumstances.

"Are you seeing someone else, Clark?" There was a dangerous current of doubt hiding beneath the challenge of her tone.

"What? No! Of course not." How could she even think that of him?

"Is it me, then? Has dating me been a big let down?"

"Lois, no," he pleaded. He was the one letting her down. He should have told her by now. Superman was coming between them once again. "I shouldn't have waited so long. I'm sorry. I sho —"

All pretense and fight had left her now; her voice was quiet. The threatening tears were evident in her voice. "You want to break up with me."

It wasn't a question. She thought he didn't want to be with her. He cursed his alter ego for the second time in as many days. Juggling was getting too hard, and now they were both suffering the consequences of his inaction.

"That's the last thing I'd ever want to do."

"Then why do you keep avoiding me?" She still hadn't looked at him, as though she were afraid of his answer.

"It's because…" he hesitated. This wasn't really the time or the place. Not like this. He'd been hoping for… What? A candlelit dinner? No, more like an impenetrable anger-proof force-field. Or at least a guarantee that she'd even still talk to him when it was all said and done.

She had her arms wrapped tightly around herself, tense with emotion. But she didn't look expectant, as if she'd given up on getting an answer from him. At least one she wanted to hear, anyway.

"Look," he started. "Why don't we go to my apartment, and I can make us some coffee." He had a feeling she'd need the caffeine. Or maybe, given her emotions were running so high, herbal tea would be better.

She gave an almost imperceptible nod and hugged herself tighter.

Clark reached for the emergency stop and released it. And nothing happened. He pulled it out and tried again, this time slotting it back into place a little more forcefully.

The elevator gave a lurch and halted again. He could hear the gears and cables above grinding in their attempt to move.

"What happened?" Lois asked as she moved frantically toward the emergency brake.

"I don't know. We're stuck, I guess."

"What did you do to it?" she asked accusingly. She reached to fiddle with the stop button, which was now a bit loose in its hold.

He hoped he hadn't caused the malfunction. He hadn't pushed it that hard, had he? "I didn't do anything. It just won't work. Maybe it's stuck." He shrugged.

"Great deduction, Sherlock. We're stuck. I have things to do. Places to go." Her voice was picking up speed as it found its fire again. She pulled hard on the brake and shoved it back in. "I don't have time to be trapped in an elevator."

She moved to start banging on the doors futilely.

"Lois, calm down." He tried to sound soothing. "We'll find a way out. I'm sure there's been a malfunction signal already sent to the security desk."

"It's eleven o'clock on a Friday night, Clark," she cut out bitterly, banging at the door more insistently, as if someone could actually hear her and rescue them. Someone other than him, of course.

"They still have people to take care of these things at this hour, and there's always someone in the lobby at the security desk. It just might take a little longer, is all." Surely being stuck in an elevator with him wasn't the worst thing in the world.

"I can't be stuck in here!" She pounded more, then leaned forward against the door in defeat. Her next words were barely a whisper, but he caught them all the same. "Not with you."

His heart took a sharp dive and he felt his shoulders slump. With a heavy sigh, he glanced upward at the maintenance door. If she couldn't bear his presence anymore, he'd take her home. No waiting this time. Silently, he floated up to the ceiling and disengaged the metal door from its frame.

He heard a breathless "Oh my god" and looked back down at her in utter defeat. He offered her a silent hand. "C'mere," he said softly. "I'll take you home now."


She hated that she felt so uncomfortable, so distant, flying in his arms. The blue spandex against her cheek was strange now and unfamiliar.

He'd heard her. He must have. And she wasn't sure if she was happy about that. It must have hurt him; she'd never seen him look so defeated.

No, she had. That day in the park when she'd told him she didn't return his feelings. But the look on his face cut at her heart so much more this time, because she *did* feel the same way about him.

But he'd been lying to her all this time, hiding who he really was. And he hadn't…

He'd let her almost marry Lex when he'd known all along what a monster he'd been. Superman had told her that, after the fact. When he'd finally deigned to grace her with his presence again after long months of silence.

Her mind flashed briefly to that night in her apartment. Superman — *he* — could have told her then. Had he been punishing her, letting her embarrass herself and get hurt simply for his own perverse revenge? Hadn't he cared enough to not want to see her get hurt?

"We're here," he announced somberly as he landed them on her balcony.

Oh, how different this was from the last time they'd gone flying, ages ago, and he'd brought her back to her window. He set her down and didn't quite meet her eyes. He stood stiffly, not moving, as if he wasn't sure whether he should leave or not. She wasn't sure, either.

She reached out and opened her window, sneaking a glance at his face. Did it matter to him that she still left it unlocked? Should it matter?

The hinges squeaked softly through the slight breeze as she swung the window open. She stepped halfway inside before she turned around, the wood framing and glass panes somewhat between them. He hadn't moved, but he was watching her now.

The breeze shifted, and she shivered slightly, though she wasn't entirely sure it was from the chill in the air.

His face was unreadable. Was he upset? Scared? Angry?

What right did he have to be angry?

In any case, she knew the conversation she was about to start shouldn't be one to be had outside. She opened the window fully, indicating he should follow her inside. She stood in the center of her living room and waited as he closed the window and pulled the curtains shut. He finally turned to look at her.

"Why didn't you tell me?" she asked, her guarded anger mixing with a sadness she was resentful for. She shouldn't be feeling guilty at the hurt and grief that'd crept into his expression.

He almost shrugged. "Because I was afraid," he said, his voice laced with regret and anguish.

She ignored the little tug at her heart. "No, why didn't you tell me about Lex? Why would you let me… How could you stand by and watch me get hurt? You said you loved me. Didn't you care enough?"

A brief look of shock crossed his face before it was replaced with anger and a not so small amount of hurt. "Didn't *I* care enough? Do you remember, Lois? Do you remember what you said to me?"

She couldn't prevent the shiver of regret that ran through her. "I said I loved you like a brother." But that still didn't excuse him not telling her. "Was it stubborn pride, then? Because I didn't return your feelings, you wanted to see me hurt, too?"

He winced, and she watched him swallow hard before he opened his eyes and looked at her again. His voice broke a little, though whether it was from threatening tears or from anger, she didn't know. "That *night*. Do you remember what you said to me that night?" He gestured at the broad S covering his chest.

She stared blankly at him for a moment. She'd said she loved him. So, obviously, somewhere between the park bench and her window, he'd fallen out of love with her. Or was just too damned obstinate to tell her.

She dropped her gaze and said, "I told you that I love you, and you turned me down."

"Because you'd turned *me* down." He sounded incredulous at her pain.

"So you were just getting even, then? That's it?"

"You don't remember, do you?" he scoffed. She wasn't sure if he sounded hurt or amused. Laughter through the pain?

Apparently she didn't remember. She bit at her lower lip and shook her head softly.

He covered his eyes with one large hand, and she could see his brow was furrowed and his shoulders were tensed up. His hand pulled slowly down over his nose, his cheeks, his mouth, as if he'd physically painted a mask of anguish with his palm as it descended. It curled into a fist at his chin and he held it there for a moment, the raw emotion written clearly on his face. His hand fell and his shoulders slumped.

And his voice was quiet when he spoke. "You told me you'd love me if I were just an ordinary man. If I had no powers at all, you'd love me just the same."


Some feeble attempt at an apology teased at her mouth, but it wouldn't come. There was just no way to say sorry for something like that, was there? Had she hurt him that much? She could almost feel the remembered pain coming off him in waves. No, it wasn't just remembered pain; it was still there, had been there the whole time they'd been dating, lingering dangerously under the surface. And now it was coming to a head, bubbling with anger.

The silence stretched on for minutes. She wasn't sure what to say, or if there was anything she *could* say. And he… Was he waiting for an apology? Validation?

Then he spoke, and the anger in his voice finally let her know how he was feeling. "Nothing to say, huh? Lois Lane, speechless. I should win a prize for that."

She stuttered for something apologetic to say, but her earlier anger surged back with a vengeance instead. "So, we're just going to see who can cut the deepest now? Don't tempt me, Clark. I don't think you want to start that battle."

He held his stare even, though she could tell some of the anger had escaped.

"I'm sorry, Clark. I never meant to hurt you like that, but you hurt me, too. You *let* me get hurt. And no matter how horrible I was to you, I still never thought you'd let me suffer like that."

Clark seemed at a loss for words, as though he were deciding whether or not to still be angry with her. She did feel marginally better, though, at the remorse she saw in his eyes even though his expression remained mostly stony.

There was a lot of blame going around, and it seemed he wasn't taking responsibility for any of it. "Look, I was the one who was lied to. Don't get petulant with me."

"Oh, I see, it's okay for you to be the victim, but I'm not supposed to feel anything?" His anger was back, full force.

"I didn't say that. You, on the other hand, there were a lot of things *you* didn't say."

"I *told* you Luthor was a monster. You just didn't want to listen." He flung an arm forcefully in front of him as he yelled.

"You could have told me that night. I would have listened!"

"You would have listened to Superman. But my opinion didn't matter."

"You *are* Superman."

He snorted.

"And I didn't listen to Clark — to *you* — because you were just being jealous and spiteful."

"Was I?" he challenged.

"Yes, you were. If you hadn't let your feelings color your attitude, I might have listened then."

"But you would have listened to Superman?"

"Yes," she said defiantly.

"Why? What makes it so different? Because Clark *was* in love with you, but you were *hoping* Superman was?"

Was it? She'd like to think it wasn't. "I don't know."

"Thought so," he scoffed.

"That's beside the point. If you loved me as much as you said you did, you should have told me about Lex that night. Why didn't you?"

"Why, Lois? *Why*? Because you broke my heart, that's why. Twice in one day, and don't think I could have handled telling you goodnight, let alone why you shouldn't marry the man who tried to kill me on more than one occasion. He was my worst enemy, and not just because he got to ask first and you said yes."

"So that's why you left so suddenly?"

He nodded, and it seemed his anger had bled away as quickly as it had come back.

"And that's why you told me you lied that day in the park, why you — Superman — stayed away for so long."

He nodded again. "It hurt too much to be near you. But it hurt even more to think that I'd left my heart lying out so exposed." He took a deep breath and let it out slowly. His gaze seemed to burn through her. "Are we going to be okay, Lois?

Would they be? Could they be? She did love him, and she knew in her heart how he felt about her. When it came down to it, there wasn't anyone else she'd rather be with, and that had to count for something. That made everything worth it, didn't it?

"I think so, Clark. I hope so."


Lisa's Request:

Three things I want in my fic:

1. angst or melancholy vibe

2. a satisfying ending (not necessarily a happy ending, although I'll take that, but ending with closure or turning a life corner)

3. Lois and Clark are a couple (but not necessarily a happy or together couple!)

Preferred season(s): any

Three things I do not want in my fic:

1. Clark as Doormat

2. Lex

3. Kid-centric