By Kari Urberg (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Summary: A continuation of Zoomway's fanfic "If You Can't Beat 'Em," in which Lois, already in a seemingly perfect relationship with Superman, finds herself dangerously attracted to her partner, Clark.
This is a follow-up to Zoomway's story "If you can't beat 'em." It is available from the archive as (cantbeat.txt) If you haven't read it or can't remember it I suggest you read it first, because a) it's a great story, and b) this story won't make any sense without that one, since I refer to events that took place in that story. This story has been floating around in my head since I read it, so I decided I should write it down and send it in. Thanks to Lara-Elaine Koch and Nancy Lemieux for proofreading and giving me suggestions. Comments are always very welcome.
Lois sighed as she watched her lover fly out of the window and wondered for the hundredth time what was going wrong with their relationship. At first it had been so fulfilling for both of them, but now it seemed like something was missing. The first sign had come about three weeks ago, when Kal-El had asked her about her feelings for Clark. She hated lying to him, but she was afraid he was thinking of stepping aside to leave her free to be with Clark, and she didn't want that, did she?
Lois got out of bed and headed for the shower. She began to think about her relationship with Clark. The strange thing was, the closer she got to Kal-El, the more she seemed to be attracted to Clark. It was hard to concentrate at the office sometimes, with Clark so close, and once in a while she would surprise a glance from him that would leave her breathless. She scrubbed at her hair in frustration at the mere thought that she could be unfaithful to the man she had loved since the first time she'd seen him, the first time he'd saved her life. How could she even think about Clark that way? He was one of Kal-El's best friends, her best friend, her partner. *Yeah, some best friend I am. I haven't even told Clark about Kal-El!* She turned the water off and reached for a towel.
Arriving at work, Lois bumped into Clark getting off the elevator. The contact disturbed her and she stammered a bit as she said hello to him. He seemed just as flustered, he walked quickly back to his desk. Lois looked up and saw Perry watching the exchange. *I hate to think what's running through his mind right now!* Lois' fears were confirmed as Perry came over to where the partners were trying to discuss their latest story.
"Kids, I've got a favor to ask you," said Perry, " Cat called in sick today, and she was supposed to cover the Costmart Charity Ball tonight. I need someone to cover for her. How about you two going?" Lois cringed at Perry's latest attempt at matchmaking.
*He doesn't know I'm already involved with someone. He sees the tension between us and thinks he's helping,* she told herself, but she was still annoyed. "I don't know, Perry, I wanted to stay home tonight." Clark looked slightly hurt at that, but he hid it quickly.
"Stay home?" shouted Perry, "How can you think of staying home? C'mon, it'll be fun. You two kids need to get out more. And Lois, that's an order!"
"But Perry…" But he had already handed Clark the tickets and walked away. Lois sighed and got up from her desk, not meeting Clark's eyes. "I just remembered a source I have to meet," she said as she rushed out of the room. She couldn't face him right now. Going out on a date with Clark was an appealing idea, and she hated herself for thinking about it that way. *It's just an assignment. It's just two reporters covering a charity ball. It's NOT a date!* she told herself firmly, but she didn't completely believe it. How was she going to get through this evening without betraying one of the men she loved? *THE man I love! The ONLY one!*
Lois managed to find work to do away from the office for the rest of the day. When she checked back in at 5:30 there was a note on her desk from Clark. "Pick you up at 8:00?"
Picking out a dress to wear was agony. She held a red, sequined off-the shoulder gown against her body. *No, this one kind of shouts "jump me!"* She tried a plain brown dress next: *too frumpy!* After going through and rejecting the rest of her wardrobe as either too sexy or not sexy enough, she flopped onto the bed in frustration. *Get it together girl! He's just your partner, your friend! Who cares what you look like for him?* She finally put on a blue evening gown with a low back and long sleeves. She knew she looked stunning in that dress, and her conscience kept nagging at her as she crimped her hair and picked out jewelry. *Why are you doing all of this for Clark? You're IN a relationship already!* She was touching up her makeup when she heard a knock at the door. "Coming, Clark!"
She took a deep breath before opening the door. Clark's eyes widened appreciatively and he seemed to choke a bit when he saw her. "Lois… Wow, you look great!" he said when he could talk.
*I've never seen anyone who can wear a tux like Clark!* ran through her mind. *You've never seen Kal-El in a tux!* responded her conscience. *No, but I've seen him out of one!* She grinned wickedly and carried that thought through the cab ride.
The ball was held in a huge hall that had once been a museum. Lois and Clark were treated to a panoramic view as they handed their invitations to the doorman and slowly walked down the wide stairs to the dance floor. The marble columns and polished floors had been designed to impress, and they did a good job of it. Tiny lights hung draped from the ceiling and twisted around the columns, giving a soft, diffused light to the room. The band that sat on a raised platform at the far end of the room was playing very well, and not too loudly. The entire effect was perfect. Couples were drifting by on the dance floor, dancing close together to the slow music.
The band began to play "Stardust." Clark smiled and whispered in Lois' ear, "I love this song." He put his hand on her back and guided her onto the dance floor. She held her breath as he took her in his arms. She could feel the smooth fabric of his sleeve against the bare skin of her back. Clark was an expert dancer, moving confidently to the slow, sultry music. His breath was warm against her cheek and her pulse was beginning to speed up. She wanted to melt into his arms and stay there forever. She gasped softly as he pulled her tighter against him. Every inch of her skin was tingling from his closeness. She found herself leaning even closer to him…
*NO!* she pushed him away and ran out of the room. She heard Clark calling after her, sounding confused, but she ignored him and kept going. Running outside, she flagged down the first taxi she saw and told the driver to take her home. Her thoughts were spinning all the way back. *How could I do that? How could I respond to him that way? He's my PARTNER! He's my BEST FRIEND! And worst of all, I'm already involved with the most wonderful man on the planet! How could I betray him that way?* By the time the cab reached her apartment, Lois was fighting back tears. The elevator was slow arriving, so she ran up the five flights of stairs, flung open her door, slammed it shut behind her and threw herself onto the couch.
*Why is this happening? What happened to me and Kal-El? Just a few weeks ago things were going so well, and now everything seems to be falling apart.* Kal-El was suspicious of her, and she deserved it. She was actually having romantic thoughts about her best friend! She'd even lied to the man she loved! How could she have done that?
More than anything she wanted to recapture the feeling they had at first, when all she wanted was to be with Kal-El every second of every day. Now she knew it wasn't enough, and she sensed he knew it too. They could never have a normal life together. He couldn't marry her. If he did, they would have no privacy, and she would become a target for every wacko who came to town with a grudge against Superman. She didn't mind that, but she knew he would never allow himself to put her in that kind of danger. But it was more than that. Something in their relationship was… incomplete. She didn't know what it was, she just knew something was missing. So she was turning to Clark, who she knew could give her a normal life, and who she knew had loved her from the first moment he saw her. *And I love him too, as much as I love Kal-El* she finally admitted to herself.
But she still loved Kal-El, and her fierce loyalty would never let her give up on him. *He needs me too! Everything he goes through, all the dangers he faces, I give him a refuge from that, a place where he knows he's safe and loved. I could never take that away from him.* She thought back to the first night when he had come to her, weakened and sick from kryptonite poisoning. *He needed me, and I was there for him!* she thought proudly. He had seemed so insecure, she had had to convince him that she loved him even without his powers. She smiled as she remembered all of his arguments- asking her what he would be like without his powers, how things would be different if his powers were given to someone else. It was almost as if she had had to convince him that he wasn't…
"Clark!" she exclaimed as she sat bolt upright, her eyes wide. "I convinced him that he wasn't Clark!" She stood up and started pacing angrily. *How could he do this to me? Why didn't he TELL me? Did he think I was stupid? That I wouldn't figure it out? I thought he trusted me! I trusted him! All this time he's been spending his nights with me, then meeting me at work like nothing ever happened! He must have laughed so hard… And here I've been thinking he was jealous of himself! That night when he asked me about my feelings for Clark…* Another realization suddenly hit.
*He was trying to tell me that night! But I wouldn't let him, and I LIED to him! Oh, Clark…* She grabbed her keys and ran down the stairs to her car. By the time she reached Clark's apartment she had calmed down a bit and was feeling somewhat nervous as she knocked rather timidly on his door. What if she was wrong? Suppose she'd made a mistake, and this was just wishful thinking? An easy way out of her dilemma? But when Clark opened the door, she really looked at his face for the first time and she knew it was true: her lover and her best friend were the same man.
"Clark, I'm sorry I ran out of the ball on you like that. Can I come in? I need to talk to you."
He nodded warily and stepped aside to let her pass, closing the door behind her. He was still wearing his tux, but he'd removed his jacket and tie. He looked confused.
She realized guiltily that he had no idea why she'd been acting so strangely and she'd probably been causing him some emotional turmoil. She didn't want to do that anymore. She just wanted to be with the man she loved and for things to be right between them.
Lois walked over to the stereo to turn down the music Clark was listening to, then took his hand and led him to the couch. She sat down and faced him squarely, taking a deep breath. "I guess I've been acting kind of weird lately…"
Clark nodded at that.
"I never told you that Superman and I have been having a relationship for the last few months." She saw him wince slightly. He really was jealous of himself! She went on, "At first, everything was wonderful. He's the most incredibly loving, caring person I've ever met. I mean, I was walking around all day with this pink cloud of happiness surrounding me wherever I went. But lately, everything has been going wrong."
Clark began to look worried. "What's wrong? I thought Superman was what you wanted," there was a slight edge of bitterness in his voice.
"So did I. But lately I've been getting the feeling that I'm not enough for him,"
Clark started to protest but Lois went on, "and it really hurts to admit it, but he's not enough for me either."
Clark looked absolutely stunned. There was more than just an edge of bitterness in his voice as he responded, "Superman isn't enough for you? What do you want, the Buffalo Bills?"
"No," Lois replied softly, looking directly into his eyes. "All I want is just one whole person." She took his hands and pulled him closer, then slid her arms up around his neck and kissed him softly on the lips. Clark's arms folded around her as he returned the kiss. Lois pulled away so that she could look into his eyes, then gently pulled his glasses off his face.
Clark gasped as he realized the significance of her action. "You know?"
"I just figured it out tonight, before I came over. The pieces were all there, I just had to put them together. I finally realized what I'd been doing to you."
"Doing to me?" Clark was puzzled.
"You never told your parents about us, did you?" Lois asked.
"Well, no actually, I didn't think they'd really approve of me having a relationship with you as Superman."
"That's what I thought. Clark, I convinced you that you were two different people, I've made you be two different people, but its not true. You can't split yourself in half. I've made you hide yourself from the people you love most. You've had to hide our relationship from your parents, and the rest of your life from me. We've both been settling for half of a relationship. I don't want to settle anymore. I want all of you."
"I've wanted to tell you for such a long time, I just didn't know how, or how you'd react. I was so afraid you wouldn't want me if you knew I was just Clark."
"And I didn't help much by lying to you about my feelings." She saw Clark look startled, then worried, then hopeful. "The truth is, I'm just as in love with Clark as I am with Kal-El. I ran out on you tonight because I was enjoying the dancing a little too much, and I was afraid of betraying the man I loved! If you knew what I've been going through, loving both of you and having to choose…"
Clark kissed her gently on the tip of her nose and smiled mischievously. "We're having a special tonight, two for the price of one. You can have both of us if you can put up with a superhero who's really just a farmboy from Kansas." his eyes glowed as he grinned at her.
"I'll take that offer. You're not *just* anything! You're Clark, you're Kal-El, and you're everything I want!" She pulled him even closer and kissed him deeply. When she finally came up for air, he gently picked her up and carried her into the bedroom. Neither of them paid any more attention to the music on the stereo:
All of me, why not take all of me, Can't you see, I'm so lost without you. You took the part that once was my heart, So why not take all of me?