By Rhen Brink (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Summary: Clark can't believe he actually gave Lois the go-ahead to date Dan Scardino. What was he thinking? But more important is what Lois is thinking as Scardino takes her out on the town.
I want to thank Gail L., Dave Miller, Deborah Reed and Zoomway for listening to me babble on and on about this story. (Oh, and thanks, Dave, for the title!)
The phone rang twice in the Kent family farm house before Jonathan picked it up.
"Hello?" he mumbled, concentrating on the crossword puzzle he had been working on since right after supper.
"Dad? I did something dumb today."
Jonathan put the paper down. He could hear the sadness in his boy's voice, "Oh, son, it can't be all that bad. What'd you do?" He frowned slightly, trying to hear every nuance.
"There's this guy, this Mel Gibson Wanna Be … he's been following Lois around … and, well, Lois asked me if I'd mind if she went out with him."
Jonathan could hear the pain in Clark's voice nearly choking him.
Clark continued quietly, "And I kind of told her to go ahead."
Jonathan slowly shook his head. "Clark, you're right. That was dumb. Let me go get your mother."
He scurried off, looking for Martha to come and help as only she could.
Martha arrived a few moments later, wiping the paint from her fingers before picking up the receiver. "Clark? It's mom. Your dad told me what happened. My question is … why?"
"(Sigh) I … can't explain it, mom. (Silence) Mayson dying was my fault! I could have saved her but I was so wrapped up in … something else."
Martha put her stern face on and hoped that it would carry over the phone lines to her baby. "Listen to me, young man! Stop this self pity this instant! You tried your best but, Clark, you can't be there every single time! You just can't!"
"I can't get involved with Lois either! She doesn't know who I am … what I am. It's not fair to her."
Martha's voice softened along with her expression, "Honey, that should eventually be her choice — not yours."
"Yeah, well, she already made that choice tonight."
It was Martha's turn to shake her head. "Sweetie, from what your father told me, you helped her get there. Now what are you going to do about it?"
His answer was barely audible, "I don't know, mom. I just don't know …"
It was 7:15 and Lois was stalling. She had exactly 45 minutes to get ready for her date and yet she was still sitting on her bed, in her slip, staring at her hands. "Damn that man!" She whispered fiercely. "How could Clark just desert me like this?" She thought back to their date. She closed her eyes. There he was across the table from her — smiling, laughing, looking tenderly at her as he pushed his dessert across to her. And then there was the kiss — warm, soft, with a promise of so much more. She smiled to herself, but then the smile faded, because, as the memory of the kiss melted away, as always she remembered the tragic death of Mayson Drake. It was as if Clark felt personally responsible for that. Afterward, it had been his turn to pull away. She wanted to be with him, help him over whatever unfounded guilt feelings he had about the car bombing, but she didn't know how to and he wasn't showing her how either.
This whole "Dating Dan" thing had gotten out of hand. She had been testing the waters … and he told her to plunge right in. She couldn't back down then so she had mumbled something inane about "what ifs" and then went storming off to ask Dan to join her in an evening out.
Lois stood up and made her way to her dressing table and started to reach for her best perfume — the one that she bought after she saw "Love Affair", the good one — not the remake — but somehow, she couldn't bring herself to pull the top of the atomizer off. "Well, he's just going to have to settle for the smell of good old soap and water." She said aloud.
Lois reached into her closet and brought out a dress, a brown one that she hadn't worn in a while. She slipped it over her head and went to find her hair brush.
Lois was dressed and waiting by 8 o'clock. At three minutes after 8 the door bell rang. She put on her smile and opened the door. Daniel Scardino was a fine enough looking man if only he would get rid of those Hawaiian shirts. And he was sweet in an over eager kind of way. He was so different from Clark.
"Hi Lois. You look great! Brown is your color, really!" He smiled. "I hope I'm not late." He stared at her for one more moment and then with a start he said, "Oh! I got these for you." He handed her a box of chocolates. "They're coconut filled." Dan hesitated when he saw her smile flicker for a second. "What? Don't tell me — you hate coconut filled chocolates. I can see it on your face. Funny, they were my partner's favorites and you're so much like her …"
Lois took the box, "No, they're wonderful," she said aloud as she thought back to the day when she and Clark shared the box of candies that Resplendent Man had brought for her. She poked holes in them all and gave Clark the coconut ones … she really hated them and Clark knew that about her. Lois put the box down and grabbed her wrap. Dan bounded through the door, leaving her to struggle with her coat. Another thought sprang into her mind. "At least Clark would have helped me." And, after a beat, another one followed. "Stop it, Lois Lane! He isn't Clark … but that's alright … right?"
When they got to the street, Dan asked if they should try dinner and a movie. Lois offered to run upstairs to get a paper so they could check show times but since it was such a nice night, they decided to walk to the newsstand a few blocks from her building instead.
They were making small talk and Lois was beginning to relax and enjoy herself when she looked up and saw a new sign dangling in front of her … "Kent Cleaners". She felt like she had been hit in the face with a damp rag. They walked on in silence. After a bit, Dan tried to hold her hand but something made Lois decide to fuss with her hair right then and he didn't try again.
As they passed the Furniture Mart, out of the corner of her eye, Lois thought she caught a glimpse of Clark on the cluster of TV sets in their display window. She stopped and back tracked. No, it was just that actor, Dean Cain, the one who looked so much like Clark. She smiled feebly at Dan and said, "I thought I saw someone … some thing … I thought I … I've been thinking about getting a new TV and I just wanted to see what was on sale." She turned away from his gaze. When she looked back at him, she smiled crookedly. Dan returned her look with a puzzled frown.
They finally reached the newsstand and as Dan checked out the paper, Lois wandered over to the candy section. There, prominently displayed, was a box of Clark Bars. Lois picked one up and ran her fingers over the name. Her attention was attracted to movement in front of her and she looked up. It was Dan.
"Look, Lois, are you sorry you said you'd go out with me? Is that it?" He asked seriously.
"I'm don't know what's wrong, Dan." Lois said quietly.
"You've been trying really hard not to show how distracted you are … but it's not working. It's Kent, isn't it."
Lois smiled sheepishly and said, "I'm sorry. I didn't know until tonight, just how much he's become a part of my life. Maybe this was a mistake. I don't know … I've been making a lot of them lately." Her voice trailed off to almost a whisper. She put the candy bar back and looked down at her shoes.
Dan moved closer to her till he was standing a few inches in front of her. "I understand. Believe me. I was so happy when you asked me that I didn't want to look any further into why you wanted to go out with me." He waited a moment and then softly continued, "He's a fool if he lets you walk away. I could make you happy, you know that, Lois, don't you?" Dan reached out his hand to stroke her arm. She pulled away and shook her head and replied, "Don't Scardino … I don't belong with you." He smiled and said, "If you're that sure then could I … could we have one first and final kiss?" She looked up at him and saw a glimmer of hope still flickering in his eyes and she felt slightly sorry for him. Silently she nodded her head. He placed both of his hands gently on either side on her face and tenderly kissed her waiting lips. The kiss was sweet but Lois felt a wrongness in it that she couldn't explain.
Dan's mouth lingered briefly and then he reluctantly pulled away and looked deeply into her eyes, searching for something that he couldn't find. "No sparks, huh?" He hoped that he hadn't sounded as disappointed as he felt.
She shook her head one final time. "I'm so sorry … for everything. If things were different … but they're not. I've got to go." She turned and ran to the corner where she hailed a cab.
Clark had lived through firestorms and earthquakes. He had burst though walls and swallowed bombs. The one thing he wasn't sure he was going to live through was the loss of Lois Lane. He sat in the dark, listening to sad music playing softly in the background, thinking about Lois and yearning for her to be with him, to touch him, to hold him and have him hold her in return. He admitted it to himself — he loved her — and now, it didn't make a bit of difference. She was gone and he was the one who waved goodbye as she left. Something snapped deep inside his chest and Clark realized that he couldn't just let her walk away. It couldn't be too late. If he had to beg, to plead, to ask forgiveness in a thousands ways, he would. He needed her in his life to be complete. Clark shot up from where he was sitting and grabbed his coat. If he had to sit on her doorstep till dawn, he was going to! He was going to somehow make her understand how much she meant to him! He wouldn't even allow himself to think that it was too late! As he bounded up the stairs to his front door, someone began pounding on it fiercely.
In minutes Lois was standing in front of Clark's apartment building. His lights were off. He couldn't be out! She had this need to see him, to explain … She ran up the steps and started to pound frantically on the door. It felt like forever before Clark opened it, looking confused and, when he saw her, elated. They stood looking at each other for a moment. Then, Lois became the one to fly for once as she flew into his arms. His coat fell to the floor, forgotten. He wrapped her up tight in his close embrace, burying his face in her hair. He didn't care why she was there, she just was and as he held her, the terrible weight that he had been carrying around with him since Mayson's death fell from his shoulders. After a small eternity, he began to release his hold on Lois but she playfully slapped his chest and grabbed him again. "Don't you let go of me, Clark Kent!"
He returned her hug and whispered to her. "Not now … not ever again." In one fluid motion, he scooped her up and carried her into the darkened apartment, the door slamming behind them as if by magic. The moon provided all the light they needed. Clark gently put her down. She looked up into his rich, dark brown eyes as he bent his head to kiss her with a hunger that she had only previously guessed at.
When the kiss finally ended, Lois laughed quietly to herself. Sparks? There was a forest fire raging, a fireworks factory exploding and a five alarm fire all jointly cohabitating inside her.
Clark lightly pressed his lips against her ear and whispered, "What's so funny?" as he continued to nibble on her earlobe, on her neck …
"Can't a woman laugh when she's happy?" Lois asked as she pulled his face up to meet hers.
"That's what I love about you, Lois," he stopped a mere inch from her lips. He swallowed and finished, "That's why … I love you." Before she could say anything else, he sealed her lips with his again and again.
That night, in that darkened apartment, they both began to help each other heal … together.