By Tank Wilson <email@example.com>
Submitted: November 2007
Summary: After her memorable Christmas dinner with Clark, Lois gets a visit from Santa Claus and makes a discovery.
Lois Lane finished putting away the dishes; a smile was still on her face. It had been a wonderful evening. One of the best she'd had in years. Christmas had never been one of her favorite holidays, but this year she had been determined to make the effort. Of course, all her original plans had gone awry, but in the end, it had turned out to be an almost magical evening.
Suddenly she was jolted out of her pleasant musings by the ringing of her phone. She frowned as she walked over to it. Who would be calling her at this hour?
"Hey, Lo, Merry Christmas."
"Lucy? Merry Christmas to you, but what are you doing calling at this hour?"
"Oh, I'm sorry. I forgot about the time differential. Did I wake you?"
Lois chuckled. "No, that's all right. I was just cleaning up afterwards."
"I just called to apologize again for not being able to come to town, and to wish you a Merry Christmas. So how was the party? Did Perry and Jimmy make it over and survive your cooking?"
It was a testament to Lois' good mood that she didn't take any offense at Lucy's remark about her cooking. Instead, she laughed. "No, unfortunately neither one of them was able to come."
"So, who came? I know Mom and Dad weren't going to be there."
"Clark came." She couldn't stop the smile on her face from spreading.
"Clark? I thought you told me he was going home to Smallville for Christmas?"
"That's what I thought to, but he came over with a lame story about his flight being snowed-in."
"You had a lot of snow?"
"No, it hadn't been snowing at all. It was just Clark being Clark. He was so sweet."
"Soooo," Lucy's voice turned a bit coy. "How was it? You and Clark alone, together."
Lois laughed at her sister's blatant innuendo. "It was… nice. Probably the nicest Christmas I've had in many years."
"Okay, spill it. I want all the gory details."
Lois laughed again. "Nothing all that gory. Just a wonderful time with a very good friend."
"Come on, Lois. Clark is hot. Don't tell me you didn't try anything. What am I saying; of course you didn't try anything. You're Lois Lane. Only Superman is good enough for you."
Normally Lois would have spat back an angry rejoinder to her sister's remark, but this time she didn't. She had to admit that even if it wasn't entirely true, she could see how others would think that way. She worried her lower lip.
"Luce, do you think I'm fickle?"
"Fickle? What do you mean?" She could hear the confusion in Lucy's voice.
"I mean, you're right. I freely admit that I'm in love with Superman. How could I not be? He's so much more than just a spandex-clad do-gooder. While it doesn't seem that he's too close to anyone, except maybe Clark, I think I know him fairly well. He's the most compassionate and selfless man I've ever known. And it doesn't matter that he puts up this stiff, formal front. I've seen beneath the facade. And I know that he cares about me too."
"So, go for it. If anyone can achieve the impossible, you can."
Lois smiled at her sister's direct approach to life. "It's not that simple. It's true that I have deep feelings for Superman, but the more time I spend with Clark, the more I realize that I can't imagine my life without him. He's already the best friend I've ever had. I know he thinks he loves me, and I'm afraid that I'm falling in love with him also. I desperately want them both. Does that make me a bad person?"
There was a slight hesitation at the other end of the line. "No, not a bad person. But you are someone with a definite problem. I may just be your air-headed little sister, Lois, but even I know that you are going to have to make a choice."
Lois' sigh was heavy enough to be heard in California. "I know; but I honestly don't know how I'm going to make that choice. I don't think I can."
"Well, if you don't make a choice pretty soon, you might not be left with any choice. You might wind up with neither."
Lois couldn't get her sister's final words of warning out of her mind as she finished straightening up her place. It hadn't been the party she'd imagined; it had been better. She and Clark had had a wonderful time. He'd been charming and attentive, just like he always was. He'd even complimented her on the meal she'd prepared. Always the perfect gentleman. Even though she'd spent quite a bit of time and effort fixing the meal, she knew how good it had or hadn't turned out. She'd eaten it too.
She reached over and tied off the twist-tie, sealing the plastic garbage bag. Just one last chore to finish. She had to take the garbage down to the dumpster out back, then she could turn in for the night. She doubted she would get much sleep though. She was too keyed up. Was it time to give Clark a shot? Could she allow herself to see her gorgeous partner as more than just her best friend? Did she dare?
Lucy was right, she would have to make some sort of decision and she was going to have to make it soon. It wasn't as if a great guy like Clark was going to be available forever. Not with predators like Mayson Drake around. And even if Lois and Clark survived Mayson's efforts, it's not like there wouldn't be many more in the wings just waiting for their chance.
Clark was a really great guy, and most women would jump at the chance to be with a man like him. Lois knew this, and she knew that she had feelings for Clark that went much deeper than just the friendship thing. Why hide those feelings anymore? Why not just tell him that she cared more than she had let on? Tell him how she really felt. Tell him that she… loved him.
There, she'd finally said it, even if it was only to herself, and only in her mind. She had finally allowed herself to admit that she loved her friend and partner. She frowned as she bent over and picked up the bag of garbage and headed for her door. Did her admission of her feelings for Clark now force her to give up those she held for Superman? Could a woman love, truly love, two different men at the same time?
Superman was a fantasy. She knew that. But a woman needed her fantasies. Would she ever really be happy with anyone, even Clark, if she didn't give that fantasy a shot at coming true? The whole fiasco with Lex made her realize that she would never 'settle' again. Whoever she chose to commit to would have to be 'the one'. It would be him and him only for the rest of their lives.
And that's where her confusion continued. She couldn't decide. She couldn't choose between them. She loved both men dearly. Partly, because of their similarities, and partly for their differences. Whereas Superman was self-assured and confidant, Clark was easy-going with a wry sense of humor. Superman could burst through a wall to save her, but Clark would pull out her chair, and open a car door for her.
Both men were handsome and well built. Both shared an innate goodness and compassion for their fellow beings. And for some unexplainable reason, both men seemed to like her. How was she supposed to choose? Lois let go an inarticulate cry of frustration as she pulled open her door and stepped into the hallway.
The back stairs which led down to the door to the back of the building were dark. She'd complained, more than once, that they needed to put some added lighting there. To top it off, there was no handrail. She placed one hand along the wall to act as her guide as she navigated the dangerous stairwell.
Lois had only one flight left to descend when suddenly she stepped on something that someone had carelessly left on the stair. Her ankle turned under her weight and with a short shriek of pain she found herself tumbling down the cold concrete steps.
She felt sharp painful blows to her arms, legs, and ribs as her body pin wheeled down the stairs. A brilliant burst of color exploded in front of her eyes as the back of her head struck the concrete floor. She barely had time to register the pain before the world slipped away and she lost consciousness.
Lois slowly became aware that she was lying on a cold cement floor. She felt a throbbing pain in the back of her head, but something told her not to pursue that issue. Instead she forced her eyes opened and was surprised that she was able to see. Where she'd expected to be greeted by a near total darkness, she was actually surrounded by a cheery red glow that seemed to grow brighter by the moment. And she would swear that she could hear… sleigh bells?
Suddenly the glow seemed to peak, then quickly damped down to a more moderate level, but the level of light to see by was forgotten as her attention was drawn elsewhere. Coming down the last few steps toward her was a sight she would never have expected to see. Maybe when she was six, but not now; not as an adult.
She immediately regretted her question. Of course it wasn't Santa Claus. It must have been someone dressed up as Santa Claus. After all it was Christmas eve, or more likely by now, Christmas day. She had to give the person credit; it was one heck of a costume. Lois had never seen a Santa suit that was so red, or so satiny. The white fur around the cuffs of his jacket and the brow of his cap looked so soft you just wanted to reach out and touch it. The black boots shone as if they had just come out of a box, new. She had no clue as to who this person could be, but it was clear that the beard was for real.
"Hello, Lois. I see you've managed to get yourself into a bit of a pickle."
Lois managed to prop herself up into a sitting position, with her back against the far wall.
"Yeah, well the renter's association is going to hear about the criminal lack of lighting in this back stairwell." Suddenly she realized he'd spoken her name. "How did you know who I am? Do you live in the building?"
The short elven-like man laughed. Lois thought that his belly seemed to shake… kind of like a bowl full of jel- . Don't go there, girl. His cheeks were unnaturally rosy, and his smile was warm and friendly. He gave her a wink. "Why, I know everyone's name, Lois. And I'm pretty sure if you think about it, you know where I live."
Lois just rolled her eyes and shook her head, which turned out to be a mistake. A sharp pain lanced through her skull. It didn't do much to brighten her mood. "Okay, I'll play your game… Santa. It's nice to see you, but shouldn't you be off delivering toys to all the good little boys and girls?"
"Oh, that's all been taken care of already. I just have one task left to take care of. I'm here to grant you your own special Christmas wish."
Lois frowned and stared at the rotund little man for several seconds, and then the lines in her brow eased. "Oh, I get it now. I'm still unconscious. This is just a dream."
The man in red just chuckled. "If you say so."
"So, why would I dream that you're here to grant me some special wish? I mean, that's not exactly what you're all about, is it? I would think that your specialty would be granting the wishes of greedy little children."
Laughter again rang through the empty stairwell. Lois was beginning to become annoyed by it. "Lois, you are all children to me. Come now, if this is your dream then there must be some reason for it. Isn't there some wish that you need granted?"
Lois frowned, but then shrugged her shoulders. What the heck. If it was her dream, then maybe this was her subconscious' way to work out her current dilemma. "Okay, I'll play along. I suppose you are supposed to represent some sort of 'voice of reason' in my inability to come to grips with my problem. The fact that you've taken the form of Santa Claus is probably because I've just had the best Christmas I can remember."
The jolly-looking man sat down on the bottom step and smiled at her. "So, can you articulate this problem you are having to me?"
Lois snorted. "If you're a part of my subconscious, don't you already know?"
"Humor you?" He just gave her that infuriating smile. "Okay, I guess for this dream to help me work out my dilemma I have to vocalize it." He gave her a nod. Lois took a deep breath. "Well, here it is. I think I'm in love with two different men, and I can't decide between them." Her voice took on a plaintive tone. "I know that it's terribly shallow and selfish of me to want it, but Lord help me, I want both of them. I'm afraid that if I chose either one of them over the other, I'd regret it. Not that I couldn't, or wouldn't, love being with that person. It's just that I'd always wonder what my life would be like had I made the other choice."
"I see. Yes, it does seem like you have a real problem on your hands, Lois." He tried to appear concerned, but the twinkle in his eye gave him away. "So, what exactly do you want me to do? What is your wish?"
"I would think that would be obvious. Tell me what to do. Tell me who to choose."
"Oh, okay. That's easy. Pick the one you love."
"What! That's you're answer? Clearly you haven't been listening. I love them both. I can't pick between them."
"Oh I heard you just fine, Lois. I'll see what I can do, but for now, I think I'd best be going. You should probably get some more rest before someone comes by to discover you."
"What? You're just going to leave me down…" A huge yawn cracked Lois' jaw. She found it difficult to keep her eyes open. She was only peripherally aware of the cherry red glow dimming down and finally winking out. Total darkness enveloped her again as consciousness also slipped away.
Lois fiddled with the bandage that covered her eyes. The gauze was soft enough but itched a little.
"Don't play with that!" She pulled her hand back as the voice of the attending nurse whip-cracked out of the darkness. She contented herself with trying to find a comfortable position in the bed. Weren't hospital beds supposed to be more comfy?
"Lois! Are you alright? What happened?"
"Clark?" Lois hadn't heard him enter. Wasn't he supposed to be in Smallville by now? She heard the nurse chuckle.
"No, Ms. Lane, that's Superman who just came in. You must be a pretty special patient to have the Man of Steel coming to check on you, personally."
"Superman?" Lois' surprise was evident in her voice. "What are you doing here?"
She could feel him come up next to her bed. He took her hand in his. "I just heard that you were in the hospital. What happened?"
Lois felt her face heat up in a blush. "I fell down the back stairs at my complex. I bumped my head."
"How serious is it?" It warmed her heart to hear the concern in his voice.
"Ms. Lane suffered a concussion," the nurse piped in. "This has left her with some double vision, which is why the eyes are bandaged, but that should clear up in a day or two. She also suffered a nasty gash to the back of her skull which required several stitches."
Lois fingered the large bandage at the back of her head. "Yeah, and from the size of this dressing I doubt I have much hair left back there."
"Will she be okay?"
"She'll be fine in a few days." The nurse patted Lois on the arm. "I'll leave you two alone. I'll be back to check on you, Ms. Lane, in a couple of hours."
Lois turned her attention back to her visitor. He continued to hold her hand, rubbing his thumb across the back of it. It felt nice. "So, how did you find out I was in the hospital? It's Christmas day. It's not like I didn't show up for work or anything. Nobody knows I'm here. I haven't even called Perry yet."
"I happened by your apartment, and when I saw you weren't home, I asked Mr. Trazewski if he might know where you'd gone. He told me you were here."
"So, you dropped everything and flew right over?"
"Well… almost. On my way here there was an accident on the interstate. It wasn't very serious. I stopped and moved a couple of cars off to the shoulder then left it to the Highway Patrol."
She smiled. So typical of Superman. Even on a personal errand, he stops to help others in need. "So, how was your Christmas? What did you do?" She waited several moments in silence. "Superman?" She began to worry that she'd overstepped some personal boundary. "I'm sorry. Am I being too nosey?"
He gave her hand a squeeze. "Not at all, Lois, you just took me by surprise. My Christmas was nice."
"Nice?" She wasn't sure what that meant. It certainly wasn't very informative. Of course, she'd conveniently forgot that was the same word she'd used to describe her Christmas to Lucy. "So, did you spend it with anyone?"
"Uh… yeah, I spent some time with friends."
"You have friends?" Lois found herself blushing again. "I mean, besides Clark and me?" She blushed even more furiously. "What am I saying; of course you have other friends. Why should I think that we're the only ones you have?"
He chuckled. "That's okay, Lois. Let's not talk about me. Let's talk about something…" Suddenly he stopped in mid-sentence. Even though her eyes were bandaged, she could sense that something else had grabbed his attention. She'd seen it happen a couple of times when she'd been with him. He'd simply stop whatever he was doing and get a far away look in his eyes. She knew he was hearing some distant call for help. Funny, now that she thought about it, it really wasn't that different from the look Clark would get when he'd remember he'd forgotten some silly little errand or some such thing.
"Lois, I'm sorry, but I have to go."
She smiled for him. "I understand. Go, save the world one more time."
He gave her hand another squeeze before releasing it. "I'll try to come back and visit."
And he was gone.
Lois spent the next half an hour feeling pleased that Superman had come to visit her. He took time out of his busy schedule of rescues and the saving of people to come see her. It wasn't like he was saving her life again. He just came to visit because he cared.
His concern had been evident in his voice. He hadn't sounded like he usually did. His voice was usually deeper and more formal sounding. Almost like he was hiding his true shelf. But he didn't hide it, or his concern, from her. It was nice to know that he cared. Of course, that just added to her confusion. What was she going to do?
Her attention was jerked to the sound. She hadn't heard him enter. "Superman? You're back. Did you forget something?"
"Er no, Lois, it's me, Clark. How are you feeling?"
"Clark? I thought you'd be in Smallville."
"How did you get back so fast… and how did you find out I was here?"
"Ah, Superman told me. He came and got me and brought me back." She could sense Clark coming up beside her. "How are you doing?" He placed his hand on hers.
Lois couldn't believe it. Without her eyes to depend on she was finding that her other senses seemed to be working at a heightened level. But something wasn't right here. Clark's voice and Superman's voice… they were the same. She could swear that they were. And his touch. Now that he was holding her hand, it was just like when Superman was holding her hand less than an hour ago. Was her inability to separate her feelings for the two men causing her to fantasize that they were actually the same person? Was she finally losing it?
His hand gave hers a squeeze. "Lois, what's wrong? Why won't you talk to me?"
She turned her head toward him. Her eyes were bandaged, but she could picture him standing next to her bed, his eyes full of worry for her. Her heart was just as confused as her head was.
"Clark, why did you come?"
"Lois? You were hurt. I had to come and see how you were. We're partners… and friends."
"But if Superman came and got you, he must have told you that I was going to be all right." She used her other hand to touch her bandages. "Yeah, I'm a bit banged up, but I'll be okay in a few days." Her mouth twisted into a grimace. "Except for where Betty the Barber decided to shave off most of my hair just to allow them to put in a few stitches."
She heard Clark chuckle. "It doesn't look like it's that bad, Lois. I'll loan you one of my baseball caps."
"You're all heart." Lois took a deep breath. "But, really, why did you leave your parents on Christmas to come all the way back just to see me?"
"Can't a guy be concerned about his partner?"
"Admit it; you were just worried that you'd have to pull your own weight now that I'm going to laid up for a few days."
"Okay, you got me. I'm actually just afraid that I'll be found out as a fraud as a reporter if you're not there to cover my butt." They both laughed. "No really, Lois, I do hope that your injuries aren't too serious and that you'll be able to…"
Abruptly Clark stopped in mid-sentence. Not again! Not now! She could imagine that far away look he always seemed to get just before he'd run out on her. "Ah, Lois, I'm really sorry, but I've got to… er, go and put more money in the meter. I'll be back as soon as I can."
"But I thought you said Superman brought you. And you don't even own a car." But he was already gone. I was just like when Superman had to run off on her a short time ago.
Suddenly Lois' mind seemed to explode. Words, images, and memories all came rushing into her consciousness at the same time. Her breath caught in her throat as she fought to put some order to all the conflicting information. It was like the pieces to a giant jigsaw puzzle rapidly began to fall into place.
Clark was always able to 'get a message' to Superman' whenever it was needed. He would always run off with some lame excuse just before Superman appeared. Superman always acted so stiff and formal around most people, and never stayed around any longer than necessary as if he didn't want people to… what? Not realize that he was actually someone else?
The voices had been identical, she was sure of it. And now that she thought about it, Clark and the Man of Steel did sort of look alike. How could she have been so stupid?
What was it that Santa had said to her? Pick the one you love? She didn't love two people. She wasn't torn between the idol of millions and her partner and best friend. She wasn't fickle after all. Superman and Clark were the same guy!
This new information changed everything. She no longer had to beat herself up over her inability to choose between the two. Now she could take that frustration and turn it into some righteous anger directed at Clark. How dare he keep this from her? She was sure he had some silly excuse for not telling her, and she supposed that she'd have to eventually forgive him. But she certainly wasn't going to make it easy for him.
No, Clark was clearly going to have to pay some tax for his actions, and then after she was satisfied he'd done penance enough, she could turn her attention into making sure that no other woman ever laid claim to what she considered hers. Lois couldn't stop the almost feral-like smile from stretching her lips. The next few months were going to be fun.
What had she told Lucy earlier? That this had been the nicest Christmas she'd had in years. Hah! That didn't even cover the half of it. This had definitely been one memorable Christmas.
She laid her head back into the pillow, the grin still firmly in place.