By Renate Brink (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Summary: Lois jumps to conclusions when she sees a not-completely-dressed Mayson Drake leaving Clark's apartment early in the morning.
It was early, too early but she had been so excited, she couldn't go back to sleep. The call that she … they had been waiting for, for several days, had come in and she couldn't wait to tell her partner. They finally had the missing piece! Lois rounded the corner to be stopped short, unable to believe her eyes. Was that really Mayson Drake leaving Clark's apartment building, still putting on her shoe as she hobbled down the stairs? Lois stood as deflated as a party balloon the morning after. She was angry and hurt and she refused to understand why. Slowly, she turned around and headed home … the call just didn't seem as important anymore. It would wait until she arrived at the Planet.
Lois was sitting at her desk going over her notes one last time when she heard Clark's whistling as he exited the elevator. He headed toward his desk and upon seeing her already at work, he smiled and commented, "Good morning, Lois. Don't you look industrious this fine morning …"
Lois, barely able to look at him, pursed her lips slightly and replied, "You're awfully chipper this morning. Did you have a good night?" She could feel every muscle in her face.
"It was okay, I guess." He started. "I did have a really incredible dream though … I was flying…"
"I'll bet you did." She blurted, not really listening. "And, even though I'm sure I'd find it spellbinding, we have a story to write and, more to the point, what makes you think I have any interest in anything that happens to you outside of this office?" She said as she started to shuffle miscellaneous papers on her desk, stacking and restacking.
"You asked …" He didn't finish. Clark was as stunned as if she had slapped him but he tried to shrug it off and changed the subject. "Shouldn't we have heard something from your old friend, Harry, about when the shipment is due? We're running out of time and we need that confirmation."
"Oh, that … I … I heard from him this morning at about 6:30. It's coming in this Friday by train. That just about does it." Lois looked down at her hands and patted the pile of paper in front of her. The story was almost done. It just needed some polishing.
"That's great news! Why didn't you call me? I was up at 6!" He was pleased and just a bit puzzled.
"I'll bet you were!" Lois fairly spat the words out. She pushed her chair back with more force than she needed and headed toward the ladies' room.
Once behind the door that separated her from him, she splashed cool water on her wrists. Wasn't that what her mother had taught her to do when she was flustered? Why was she letting this get to her? She didn't have a clue. It wasn't like she had her name tattooed on his forehead. He was a free agent and so was she. "Well," she thought to herself, "at least I still have Superman."
Looking more composed than she really felt, she breezed through the news room, stopped long enough to grab her jacket and headed for the elevator, calling out over her shoulder as she walked, "I'll be gone for the rest of the day. If anybody comes looking for me, tell them I'm out covering a dog show."
Clark watched her go. He had no idea what was wrong and, for once, he was going to remain silent and let Lois work whatever it was out by herself … at least until later. He'd have to wait till evening to do some real investigating, the most dangerous kind.
Lois sat by her window for what seemed like hours, staring up at the moon drifting in and out of the clouds, hoping that she would catch a glimpse of blue. After too long a while, she got up and walked to the freezer, hoping against hope that she hadn't finished off all of the Rocky Road the last time she needed consoling. She opened the container and found it was empty. All that was left was a spoon. She fished it out and licked it just as she heard a tell-tale swoosh! She turned to see him standing in front of the curtains as they slowly settled back in place.
"I … was just in the neighborhood … and I thought I'd stop by to see if you were okay." The look of concern on his face was worth a thousand pints of ice cream - any flavor! "I ran into Clark and he said you were … well, that you left work early. I hope nothing's wrong."
"Clark!" She said disgustedly, "Don't talk to me about that turncoat!" She walked over to the couch and sat down, looking distracted. "I'm fine, really, I just, well, if you must know, I had a shock … you think you know some people and then those people, they just go and do something so out of character and then it makes you wonder if you ever really did know them in the first place…" The words just came tumbling out. It didn't matter any more because she looked up and saw the one face that she'd waited all her life for and, at that instant, she knew she could tell him anything and he would understand. "I … saw Mayson Drake leave Clark's apartment building this morning, very early and I don't know why that bothers me so …" She said that more miserably than she had intended. She never got to finish because he, her one true confidant, started to laugh. Not a small embarrassed laugh but a huge, rude, belly laugh, the kind that brings tears to your eyes. Lois was stunned! She stood up, hurt and confusion chasing each other across her face.
"I'm sorry, Lois," he stammered as he tried to catch his breath. "It's just such a relief … I thought … I don't know what I thought … ask Clark … believe me," he fought to gain control, "I have it on very good authority that whatever you were thinking, it's wrong. It couldn't be more wrong! I … just know Clark better than you … I'm sorry," he said again as he tried to wipe his eyes with his cape, "I've got to go …" And with that, he swooped out the same way he had swooped in just minutes before.
Lois was left standing there staring at empty space, holding an empty ice cream container in one hand and a sticky spoon in the other. She was utterly and thoroughly confused. Then the doorbell rang.
Lois opened the door and found Clark standing there holding a bag out in front of him. He almost looked as if he had been crying recently. "It's ice cream …Rocky Road. I just figured it might cheer you up." He stood staring at the bag. "You've been acting … really strange lately, Lois. You've had me worried." He hesitated briefly. "Do you want to talk?"
Lois took the bag and moved into the kitchen. Clark followed her. She put everything down on the counter and turned slowly. Then she began, "Superman was just here and he … oh, never mind." She said, shaking her head as if to clear it. She paused and then began again. "Not that it's any of my business or anything but as partners and, you are my partner, well, I'd tell you if something was going on. I mean, I did tell you about Lex and everything … I just think that if you don't trust me enough …" She stopped, looking really flabbergasted and said, "Don't just stand there! Don't you agree?"
"Lois, just tell me what's on your mind and we'll fix it." Clark sounded impatient … like someone who already knew the punchline.
"I was on my way to your apartment this morning. I thought we could work on the story together, maybe over breakfast. I couldn't sleep and I wanted to iron out some of the sticky points …" and then with real purpose, "I saw Mayson Drake leaving and she wasn't even fully dressed … she was still putting on her shoe, for heaven's sake!" Feeling embarrassed but glad it was finally out in the open, Lois sat down on a chair and glared at Clark, daring him to laugh, too.
"Lois, you have got to believe me when I tell you nothing happened … she said she was out walking and she saw my light on and stopped by to say hi … she's very pushy, have you noticed that about her …?" Lois made an attempt to answer, but Clark continued, "We talked at the front door for a minute or two and then I told her I had to get ready for work … When she was leaving, she nearly fell down the front steps - she broke her heel and I let her come in while I … um, glued it on for her with some super strength glue. That's all that happened." He looked miserable, too. He didn't laugh and as he looked straight into her eyes, she knew he was telling the truth. That would be a pretty farfetched lie especially for a farm boy from Smallville.
Clark crossed the short distance to where Lois was sitting. He carefully guided her up out of her chair and then he caressed her cheek and said softly, "But it's nice to know you care …" And then it clicked … everything fell into place. That gentle touch, the closeness of his body, those eyes she could drown in … Clark leaned down and kissed her slowly and softly.
Lois slid her arms around his broad warm body and as their lips finally parted, she quietly said, "And, Clark?"
"Yes, Lois?" Clark whispered into her hair.
She nestled her forehead into his shoulder. "Thanks for not laughing at me the second time I told you …"