Summary: Lois and Clark are at odds at Christmas, each with collapsed Christmas plans.
"Sometimes I just hate Christmas," Lois sputtered as she dropped, for the third time, her bundle of packages.
"Excuse me, it looks like you could use a little help."
Oh, no, she thought. Just what I don't need…somebody trying to be nice when I'm in the mood to knock down phony Santas ringing irritating little bells.
"Oh, Clark, it's you…sorry, I couldn't see with all the stuff I'm carrying. But thanks, I think I can handle it. If you'd just pile the boxes like this…unh…geeze, take it easy!"
"Sorry, Lois. Just trying to help. Here, let me take some of those. I'll walk you home. Hey, what's the matter…Grinch stole your Christmas spirit?" His eyes twinkled. He loved to tease her, even though he knew the slightest little provocation could set her off. He just wanted to get her out of her black mood. He figured if he could cheer her up, he might feel better, too. He wanted to forget that he had to work on his favorite holiday. Perry had been sincere in his apology, but as he explained, everyone had to pull their weight, and take their turn on Christmas. The Daily Planet never closed shop. Clark wanted this holiday to be special, and Lois was the one person he wanted very much to share it with. That was the only thing that would ease his disappointment.
"Very funny! Noooo, nobody's stolen my Christmas spirit. I just don't think I have any this year."
"Why not? Last year you were the life of the office party!" He grinned, remembering the fun they had at the Metropolis Club.
"Don't remind me. Last year it FELT more like Christmas. This year, forget it." She tried to mask her disappointment, but failed miserably.
"What do you mean," he asked, concern creeping into his voice.
No, please don't do this to me, she thought. Don't try to make me feel better…I don't WANT to feel better!
"Come on, Lois, I'm your partner. Spill it!"
"Darn you, Clark Kent! You always make me say things I later regret. If you MUST know [not that it's any of your business by the way], my holiday plans have totally evaporated. What passes for my family these days is either half way around the world, or off in the wilds of Borneo practicing medicine." Clark winced.
"Ouch! I'm almost sorry I asked, but at least now I know why you're so grumpy!"
"I am NOT grumpy!" Lois sputtered. "Why aren't YOU in a bad mood? We only get Christmas Day off this year…who wouldn't be grumpy! Oh, wait…don't tell me…your parents are coming to Metropolis and you're gonna have turkey and stuffing, and roast chestnuts, and pretend you're at home in Smallville…great! Now I have to put up with a partner who's going to be rubbing it in while we're out doing a puff piece on the oldest living Santa Claus in Metropolis…" The sarcasm spilled out before Lois could stop herself.
"Whoa, Lois…settle! I was going to ask…aw, never mind…what's the point? You really know how to put a damper on things, don't you? And for your information, I have to work second shift on Christmas…remember, I'm low man on the totem pole…Somebody's got to answer the phones."
Without realizing it, they had arrived at Lois's apartment building. Lois had turned to dismiss Clark when he hit her with this news. A look of sadness and deep disappointment stopped her cold. He dumped his packages into her arms.
"Bye, Lois. See you tomorrow." A tinge of bitterness laced his voice. He turned quickly and headed off down the street.
"Clark…wait!" She called to him, but he refused to turn around. Why do I do this, she asked herself? Why do I turn every conversation we have into a battle? In the distance she heard a phone ring. Darn! I hope I put the answering machine on. It was several minutes before she managed to get to her apartment, unlock the door, and extricate herself from her coat and packages. Checking her machine, she found her mother had called, leaving a number where she could be reached. Lois quickly punched in the phone number.
"Mom? This is Lois…I'm glad I caught you!"
"And I'm glad to hear your voice, dear. I hope you were able to make other plans. You sounded so disappointed on the phone this afternoon… I know how much you were looking forward to all of us being together." Her mother sounded all right, even though she could detect a note of real regret in her voice.
"Gee, mom. I'm sorry I was so short with you on the phone. Maybe the Grinch stole my Christmas spirit…I don't know what I'm going to do for Christmas…maybe I'll read a book, or clean the grout, or visit a soup kitchen…"
"Lois Lane, I can't believe I'm hearing such self-pity! Maybe I'd better come and stay with you. You really shouldn't be alone—not this time. After all you went through this year…"
"Mom, please don't! I'll be fine…I am fine…really…maybe I'll do something with Clark…"
"Clark? Clark Kent? Why that would be nice, dear." Mrs. Lane had learned not to push Lois when it came to her social life. Lois rarely talked about the men she dated. But this Clark Kent seemed to be someone special. When Mrs. Lane called The Planet that morning, Clark had answered the phone at Lois's desk.
"Hi, Mrs. Lane. This is Clark. Lois isn't here right now. Think she went out to do some last-minute Christmas shopping, or something."
"Oh, my, I really need to talk to her."
"Is there anything I can do for you? Can I take a message for her?" he asked.
This young man is so nice…just what my daughter needs, she thought, remembering that traumatic wedding day last spring. When she got the call from Lois announcing her wedding plans, she knew things weren't quite right. When she should have been excited and bubbling with happiness, Lois was matter-of-fact and almost nonchalant in reciting the agenda for the big day. And when Lois cried over the phone that her closest friends wouldn't even be there, she knew this would be the biggest mistake of her daughter's life. She had been startled to hear Lois babbling about not knowing if she really wanted to marry Lex, and rambling on about her friend, Clark. Anyone could see she was having serious doubts about marrying that man. But, she couldn't stop her. Mrs. Lane knew that Lois had to make that decision for herself. She was relieved when her daughter stopped the wedding. If she had gone through with it, Lois would have had a miserable life. She could see all the signs, even if her daughter couldn't. A life in a gilded cage. That's what it would have been like for her. For once Lois's common sense and Fate won out. She blamed herself for her daughter's bad luck when it came to love. Her own marriage, and Lois's relationship with her father turned a kind, sweet, beautiful child into a cynical young woman hardened by a competitive career.
While she took care of canceling the reception and sending the wedding guests home that day, Clark had stayed with Lois, consoling her. I'm so glad she has friends, she thought, especially Clark. I could tell that young man cared deeply for her. Clark's voice brought her back to the present.
"Well, Clark, maybe you can. I'll call her later, but in the meantime, can you tell me if she has any plans for Christmas?"
"I thought she was spending the day with you and her sister," he said.
"Well, I'm afraid that's all changed. We're both terribly disappointed, but Lucy's job forced her to make other plans, and I can't get a flight in time. I'm lucky enough to have good friends here who won't hear of me being alone. But I'm worried about Lois. She seems okay, but I don't think she's very happy. You know, she's said very little to me about Lex. I just don't want her to be alone this year."
"Mrs. Lane, not to worry! My plans are kind of up in the air, anyway, maybe I can talk Lois into spending some time with me, uh…and my family."
"Clark, that would be wonderful…are you sure you don't mind?"
"Oh, no…my parents would be happy to see Lois again. Besides, I've been worried about her, too. I'll wait until you speak to her before I say anything." Clark was starting to feel a little better about Christmas. Knowing he would have so little time off for his favorite holiday had left him feeling quite depressed. Maybe things were finally looking up.
"Uh, Mrs. Lane…have a Merry Christmas!"
"Why, thank you, Clark, I do believe I will…you, too! Oh, and thank you for looking out for Lois…she needs more friends like you."
"Don't mention it. My pleasure!"
When Lois received the second call from her mother, Clark noticed the conversation was terse, and very business-like. It was difficult for him not to eavesdrop, so he forced himself to listen to the banter at the coffee machine. The look on Lois's face when she hung up would have sent daggers plunging into the heart of the most spirited Santa Claus in Metropolis. No, better leave well enough alone…for now, he thought. Even Jimmy was smart enough to avoid her this once. But, their confrontation after work that day nearly destroyed whatever Christmas spirit he had left.
The next few days passed quickly. Several times Lois thought Clark wanted to say something to her, but he apparently thought better of it. She tried, she really tried to feign a spirit of Christmas she knew she didn't have. She didn't want anyone to know she would be alone. She even tried to be nice to Clark. But he wasn't buying any of it. Oh, he was civil enough, but his usual cheerfulness was gone. When he said "Merry Christmas" to friends and visitors at work, she could tell his heart wasn't in it either. Perry knew something was wrong. He kept trying to get them together under the mistletoe…but they avoided it and each other, like the plague.
Finally, Christmas Eve arrived. Everyone left as early as they could without incurring the wrath of Perry White. They knew Perry loved Christmas, and he did everything in his power to spread a lot of cheer before he allowed them to leave. Lois dreaded going home to any empty apartment. Clark wouldn't bring up the subject again, and try as he might, Perry just couldn't get those two young people to connect. He gave up trying to get them together. Lois and Clark were the last ones to leave the office. As they headed toward the elevator, Lois made one last try.
"Yes, Lois, what is it now? I'm in a hurry."
"Clark, uh, would you like to come over for dinner tonight?"
"Why? I thought you had big plans, Lois. Why would you want to spend Christmas Eve with me?"
"Clark, you can be so darn frustrating…I'm trying to be a friend here. I'm trying to apologize for the other day. Besides, I don't have any other plans."
"Well, I'm afraid I do," Clark retorted. Come on, he thought. Don't let her get to you again. But he couldn't help it. "Besides, Superman will probably drop by, and you'll have all the company you need." His voice cracked. Gotta get under control. He could still salvage his holiday by flying home for a short visit with his parents. It wouldn't be the same, but he knew they'd try to make him feel better. Deep down inside, he just couldn't bear the thought of being without her or of Lois being by herself in that empty apartment. While he loved his parents, it just wasn't enough to ease the loneliness. He also knew he couldn't be in two places at once.
Lois turned to him with a look of astonishment on her face. "Clark, you're jealous, aren't you?"
"No, Lois, I'm just being realistic. I can't compete with Superman. That's all you care about."
"Compete? What in the world do you mean? I wanted you to come over tonight because…well because it's Christmas, and you're my friend, and I got you something, and your parents aren't coming until tomorrow, right?"
"Lois, I'm sorry, I just can't tonight. I mean it."
"Well, Clark, if you're sure…"
"Yes, Lois, I'm sure."
She felt terribly dejected. She could have kicked herself. The elevator door had just opened, when she remembered something she left behind at her desk.
"Clark, wait here…okay? I'll be right back." And before he could say anything, she was gone. No, he thought. I'm not going to give her the satisfaction, not this time. He quickly got on, punched the button for the ground floor, and didn't look back. When Lois returned Clark was nowhere in sight. Damn, she thought. I've ruined everything. In her hand was a small gift box. She tucked the package into her shopping bag. With a deep sigh, she pushed the down button and waited impatiently for the next elevator to arrive.
Back at her apartment, with the Christmas tree lights on, and soft music in the background, Lois finished wrapping her gifts. She'd have to wait until she saw her mother next week to present her with her gift, Lucy's she'd have to mail. But the two presents on the coffee table were the last ones to be wrapped. She had searched all over the city for something special for Clark. While Clark thought she was out tracking down some lead for their next story, she was in reality hitting jewelry stores and specialty shops. Finally, on an out of the way street, in an older, more exclusive part of the city, she found it. Perfect! she thought. It will remind him of home. It was a beautiful crystal globe, with a tiny farmhouse and trees inside, covered with snow flakes that swirled and danced when you shook it. It reminded Lois of the Kent's farm and its quaint country setting. In an antique shop near The Planet, she found a leather bound copy of a book she wanted. She wondered now if she'd get the chance to give Clark his gift, or if he'd even want it.
A tap at her window startled her. Oh, no…she thought. She quickly hid the book under some wrapping paper. She went to the window and unlocked it. There before her was Superman. While she had hoped he'd come, his visits lately had been few and far between. A lot of crime at Christmas time, she figured.
"Please, come in," she whispered shyly.
"Thanks, Lois. I can't stay too long…" There was something sad about his eyes. A shadow crossed her face…she bit her lip to hide her disappointment."
"I understand, but I am glad you came." She tried to sound light- hearted and matter of fact, but it was a struggle. "Can you stay long enough for me to give you something?"
"Certainly," he said.
As she bent to retrieve the book, she failed to notice the look on his face. He had spotted the glass globe. She handed him the book…the expression on his face had softened, he even smiled. "Merry Christmas," she said.
"Shakespeare, Lois? I love Shakespeare…how did you guess?" "Oh, I didn't know…it just seemed appropriate somehow." "Hmmm…" He opened the book of sonnets…and he began reading, half to himself:
"When, in disgrace with Fortune and men's eyes,
I all alone beweep my outcast state,
And trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries,
And look upon myself and curse my fate,
Wishing me like to one more rich in hope,
Featured like him, like him with friends possessed…
…For thy sweet love remember'd such wealth brings
That then I scorn to change my state with kings."
The air was so still, the silence so deafening, she could have heard a pin drop. He slowly closed the book, took a deep breath and said, "Lois, I want to show you something…will you come with me?" Puzzled, she replied, "yes". He opened the window and reached for her. Lifting her gently, he cradled her in his arms. Not daring to say a word, he flew off with her into the night.
Moments later she found herself on Clark's balcony. Oh, no, she thought, if he sees me it will really make him angry. I shouldn't be here. She turned to say something to her companion, but he put a finger to his lips…
"Wait here. I don't want him to see me, but I think you need to find out how he's spending his Christmas. He's very unhappy tonight."
"But…" Before she could say anything else, Superman had flown off. From Clark's apartment came the sound of the television…she peered into the window…what in the world was he watching? She could barely see, but it sounded like "It's a Wonderful Life." Oh, brother, she thought, is this what it comes down to? She pulled away from the window just as Clark came out of his bedroom. It looked like he had just taken a shower. On the coffee table was a sad looking pizza, a half-empty cup of coffee, and a tiny box, wrapped in gold paper. He just sat and stared at it. The phone rang… it was difficult to hear, but it sounded like Clark was talking to his parents. She caught snatches of the conversation…"no, mom, don't worry… working tomorrow…see you next week…yeah, I'll tell Lois…bye, dad… Merry Christmas…" He checked his watch…9:30…turned off the television and the lights, and returned to the bedroom. Lois pressed her face against the window. Just as she was about to tap on the glass, Superman reappeared.
"No, Lois, don't do that. I just wanted you to see how alone he is tonight. He's a lot like you…you're both stubborn, you know…and, Lois, it's no fun being alone on Christmas." She nodded, a tear slowly working its way down her cheek. Gently lifting her, he flew back to her apartment.
He only stayed a moment, making sure she would be all right. With book in hand, he kissed her cheek, whispering, "thank you" and "Merry Christmas, Lois." Silently he departed, the rustling curtains the only indication he had been there. It took Lois only seconds to make up her mind. Within minutes she was out the door, Clark's gift securely in her pocket. Soon she found herself at his apartment.
Timidly at first, then with greater resolve she knocked at his door. It took forever before the light came on. A sleepy, "Who's there?" startled her. Now who else would be knocking at your door at this time of night, she thought.
"Clark, it's me…please, can I see you?" The door flew open.
"Lois, what in the world are you doing out at this time of night?"
"Why, just visiting a friend on Christmas Eve…now don't say a word, Clark…you didn't give me a chance to give this to you earlier."
Before he could say anything, she placed the box in his hand. "Lois, you shouldn't have…look, come on in before you freeze." Lois made her way to the couch. She sat on the edge, not daring to get too comfortable.
"Open it up…I hope you like it." She only had time to tie the box with a Christmas ribbon. As Clark untied the bow, and lifted the lid of the box, the strangest smile came over his face.
"Lois, it looks like my parents' house…how did you…where did you get this? This is the nicest thing anyone has ever given me." Lois blushed.
"Well, Clark, for as much as I tease you about Kansas, I know how much you love your parents…I can see it when you're with them. I just thought you'd like a little bit of home." She noticed the little tree for the first time. The lights were like tiny stars, and small, colored glass balls reminded her of the planets. A crescent moon graced the top of the tree. Tucked in a corner of the room, she hadn't seen it from the balcony. Clark picked up a tiny box that sat all alone under the little pine tree.
It was wrapped in gold paper, with a tiny red bow. Oh, my, she thought. The very box that she had seen on his table.
"Here, Lois…for you."
"Oh, Clark, I don't know what to say, I wasn't expecting anything." As she unwrapped the package, the name of her favorite jewelry store shown in the light. Oh, no, she thought…I hope he didn't…but, to her great shock, and delight, the little box contained the most beautiful cameo she had ever seen. On a delicate gold chain. Clark took it from the box, and placed it around her neck.
"I remembered how much you liked them…you know, the day we took that ring to the jeweler's…"
He looked at her with a serious expression. How could she ever forget. In spite of everything, he remembered. He thought enough of her to buy her something as precious as this. A tear trickled down her face as she hugged him and kissed him on the cheek.
"Clark, I don't deserve this. I…" Holding her close, he buried his face in her hair. She couldn't see the tears falling from his eyes, but she could sense his emotion. She held him tight for what seemed like an eternity. When he finally let go, he was smiling.
"You know, this day started out being a real disaster. My parents can't make it…snowed in, believe it or not…and I convinced myself that I wouldn't get to spend Christmas with my friends…the other day was the last straw you know."
"I am so sorry for all of that Clark. I didn't realize you'd take it so hard. It's just that I spend so few holidays with my family, that it really got to me this year…there's no excuse for my behavior…I didn't mean to hurt you."
"Lois…I'm just glad you're here now. Will you stay for a while? How about some coffee? I'll take you home later…I don't want to see you on the streets by yourself so late at night. Hey, how about turning on the T.V…I think that movie, "It's a Wonderful Life" is on…I know it's corny, but I kinda like it." Lois smiled, turned the set on, and snuggled into a corner of the couch. Clutching the cameo in her hand, a warm and happy feeling filled her being. She resolved to spend Christmas day with him, too. Maybe things would be different from now on. Clark watched her from the kitchen…a feeling of hope crept back into his heart. Merry Christmas, Lois…he whispered softly. Merry Christmas!