By Carla Humbert (Beverly9@aol.com)
Summary: Clark Kent dashes off yet again as Lois is in the middle of pouring out her heart to him. Has he pulled this stunt one time too many? Clark realizes that may be the case as his gifts of chocolate and even a new Superman mug fail to appease her.
Clark could swear he felt Lois glaring at him before the elevator doors opened. Sure enough, as he stepped off the elevator into the Daily Planet's news room, Lois Lane's eyes were drilling into him. They were dark, glowering and obviously furious.
Not that he blamed her, after a very nice dinner the night before, he had been walking her home and she had just been about to explain why she hadn't been seeing Dan Scardino lately (something Clark really wanted to hear) when he heard cries for help. His heart sinking, he stopped walking and feigned tiredness, asking Lois if she would mind walking home by herself the rest of the way. She stared at him for a moment as if not believing he was doing this to her, again, and then without a word turned away from him and walked away down the street without so much as a backward glance at Clark as he proceeded to remove his tie and glasses, changing into Superman and flying away at top speed.
Now Clark approached her desk, his hands full of things that he placed on her desk, one at a time. He didn't even bother to see if she was speaking to him, he was afraid of the answer. He listed the gifts to her as he set them down. His walk to work had been a Lois Lane shopping spree, it seemed.
"Cafe mocha, a double, in a Superman mug." Clark had felt a bit crazy purchasing the damn ceramic mug with the big red and yellow "S" logo emblazoned on it, but after all, it was HIS logo. He knew Lois would like it. "Double crunch chocolate bars" Clark laid two foil wrapped bars on her desk. "Two tickets to see "Speed" again." Lois had seen that movie three times and Clark was sick of it, but he knew she would love to sit through it another time. "And finally, an apology." Then Clark stood and looked at her. She was the most beautiful woman he had ever seen, even furious she was breathtaking.
Lois picked up the cup and looked at the logo for a second before taking a sip. Then she set the cup down and without a word went back to typing at her keyboard.
Perry had been watching from his office door with Jimmy beside him. They both sighed as Clark walked, dejectedly, back to his own desk and began working. "Doesn't that boy know not to try to buy off Lois Lane?"
"And I thought the Superman mug was a choice of genius." Jimmy said.
"Jimmy, Clark could have walked in here with Superman on a leash for her and she wouldn't have melted. Lois can not be bribed."
Jimmy shook his head. It was a good try. He went back to the darkroom to finishing developing pictures.
It was hours later when Lois got up to go to the coffee machine and fill up her new cup for the fourth time that she stopped by Clark's desk. She leaned over his shoulder and watched him type for a second and then asked, "Apology?"
"A-P-O-L-O-G-Y" Clark spelled without looking up.
"I didn't want to know how to spell it, Clark! I want to hear one."
At this Clark looked up in surprise. "Really, I am going to be forgiven?"
"Depends on the apology." Lois said, waiting.
Clark stood up and looked her in the eye. "Lois, I am so sorry that I keep leaving when you need to talk to me, I have the worst timing ever and you don't need to put up with that."
"So, if you want to see Scardino, I mean Dan, I think you should."
Lois's eyes widened. "What?"
"I obviously am not very good for you, we are great partners but as dates, we seem to clash." Clark kept on rambling, for this was the hardest thing he ever had to say. Last night he decided that he had to break himself away from Lois before he ruined everything. "Do you understand? I can't keep putting you through this."
Lois just stood there in front of her partner. Her eyes started to tear and her hands started to shake.
Clark started to get nervous. Maybe here in the office wasn't the best place to tell her this decision of his. Too late now. "Lois?"
Lois Lane did something that she had never done at work before. She began to cry. Tears spilled over down her cheeks and she began breathing heavily. "You are dumping me?"
"Not so loud, Lois." Clark looked around at coworkers who, startled at Lois's outburst, were politely pretending not to notice. Except Perry, who had the right to watch everything going on in his news room, he felt.
"You're dumping ME? Listen, Farmboy.." but that was as far as she got before her voice cracked. She stepped back and threw her new mug at his desk as hard as she could. Shards of ceramic and waves of scalding coffee crashed around Clark, but he didn't even feel it as he watched Lois sprint for the elevator, crying openly now.
The news room fell silent as everyone pretended to be busy. Perry's voice sounded like a sonic boom in the deathly quiet. "Clark, can I see you in my office?"
Clark closed the door behind him and sat down on Perry's office couch.
"Son, do you know what your mistake was?" Perry was skipping all preliminary conversation and getting right to the heart.
"Leaving Borneo?" Clark asked glumly.
"More recently." Perry hinted.
"Falling in love with Lois?"
"That's the one. Now, can you think of the bigger mistake?"
"I have a feeling you'll tell me."
Perry nodded. "Yes, I will. You are not being honest with Lois. You want to be with her, but you keep running away. Normally I'm not one to become involved in others personal problems, but this is effecting my best news team and it has to stop!"
"I agree, Chief. I decided that it would be best for Lois and I to be partners only and for her to date Agent Scardino, or anyone else that makes her happy."
Perry looked amazed. "You decided all of this and then just TOLD Lois about it? Son, even I don't go and tell her what is best for her."
Clark looked down at his hands folded in his lap. "I didn't mean to order her to date him, or to dump her, I thought I was doing her a favor. She is getting so mad at me!"
"Why do you take off and leave her in the lurch three times a day, anyway? Lois can be damned annoying, but you could at least hear her out."
"I don't want to leave, I just need to be … elsewhere … sometimes." Clark realized that it sounded very bad. He wished he could explain better.
"I don't want to know if you are running off to meet your source, or if you have to brush your teeth. The point is, Lois needs to make up her own mind. You can't buy her off with trinkets, and you can't turn her away by force. She is Lois Lane and if you want to be her partner, you have to let her be in charge. See my point?"
Clark started to laugh. His first day at work he had gotten the speech from Lois about her being "top banana" and calling all the shots.
Perry laughed with him. "There are easier women to date, I'm sure, but none more rewarding, I'm willing to bet you. Elvis said the same thing about Pricilla. Now go find Lois and ask what she wants to do. And listen to her."
Clark was already on his way out of the door.
Perry shook his head. "Kids."
Using super-hearing, Clark found Lois in the basement. She had been crying, and he could still hear muffled sobs which is what lead him to her. She was sitting on the floor with her knees drawn up against her. She heard someone on the stairs and turned around.
"Go away, Clark."
"I will if you really want me to, I just had to apologize for before. I wasn't sending you away or dumping you. I just want you to do whatever you need."
"I said go away, Clark." Lois repeated between clenched teeth. "I mean it."
Clark turned to go, but paused and reached into his pocket. "I thought you'd need these." He tossed the two candy bars she had left on her desk to her.
Lois picked up one and unwrapped it. "Clark?"
Clark was up a flight of stairs, but hurried back down. "Yes?"
"Dan doesn't want to see me either. If it makes you feel better, he walked away from me, too."
Clark was speechless, he stared at Lois in surprise.
"I tried to tell you about it last night while we were walking, but you left."
Clark sat down beside her. He put an arm around her shoulders. Lois shrugged the arm off, but it wasn't a very hard shrug, so he left his arm where it was. "Tell me now."
Lois took a deep breath. "He said he was tired of feeling that I was always thinking about you, every time I was with him."
"Were you, thinking about me?"
"I think so, Dan kept complaining that my mind wandered during our dates. I called him Clark once, and that's when he told me it wasn't working."
Clark couldn't help but smile.
"It isn't funny, Clark! Dan wants to be with me, but not if I'm hung up on you, and he doesn't abandon me in mid sentence. I want to be with you, but you are always running away. So who do I turn to now that you don't want me?"
Clark's eyes widened in surprise. "I don't want you? I have never wanted anyone so much in my life!"
"Then why did you dump me?"
Clark sighed, "Quit saying that! I never dumped you, Lois, I just wanted to let you be free to date Dan if that is what you wanted to do."
"What do you want, Clark? Do you want me with someone else?"
"No!" Clark yelled. Then more softly, "It kills me a little, each time Dan is around you."
"Then why do you abandon me one minute and then shower me with gifts the next?"
"I thought you'd like the gifts I picked out."
"That's not the point." Lois said. "But, yes, I loved the cup."
"I could tell." Clark responded.
"I'm sorry about breaking it."
"Sorry that it broke, or sorry that you threw it at me?"
"Lois," Clark said quietly. "I want you with me, but I can't guarantee that I will never run out on you ever again."
"Well," Lois sighed, "so it goes in the everyday life of a superhero."
"Right," Clark stopped. "What?"
Lois just smiled. "Clark Kent, I am only the best investigative journalist in the city. How long did you think you could keep this from me?"
"What from you?"
Lois reached up to Clark's shirt and unbuttoned the top two buttons revealing the familiar blue formfitting material. "Superman." Lois breathed.
Clark grabbed Lois's hand with his own and looked into her eyes. "How long have you known?"
"I don't really know, it was a gradual realization. Subconscious hints over time. The clincher was Diana Stride's expose' on you. Superman's appearance was…wrong somehow. Was it a hologram?"
Clark nodded, dumbfounded. "You know." He kept repeating that line over and over to himself. Lois knew. No more hiding, no more running away.
"When were you going to tell me?" Clark asked.
"When was I going to tell YOU?" Lois countered. "You have a lot of nerve asking me that! Were you ever going to tell ME?"
Clark shook his head. "I don't know, things kept getting in the way. Dan in particular."
"He's not in the way now." Lois whispered.
"No, he isn't." Clark leaned in close to Lois and put his lips softly against hers. He relished every millisecond of the kiss. Even seated against the hard floor of the basement, it was heaven. He heard her breathing quicken and felt her mouth harden against his. It was almost too much for Clark, he reached his hand behind her head and entwined his fingers in the black silk of her hair pushing her forward into him. Clark felt the room spinning, he didn't have one superpower to combat this. This was what he had dreamed of for so long. Lois in his arms and in his life. He should have confided in her sooner. That was in the past, however, and now he wanted to concentrate on the future, and this remarkable present.
Lois broke the kiss off first. "Well, aren't you glad things are working out this way?"
A voice boomed out from above them. "Yes, I am very glad. Now get back to your desks!"
"Perry!" Lois yelped, looking up to the staircase above their heads. "How long have you been standing there?"
Clark jumped up and helped Lois to her feet. They both brushed basement dust off of themselves and each other. Lois was blushing and Clark was grinning this foolish smile he couldn't control.
"I've been standing in this building for many years, Lois Lane."
Lois started up the steps to Perry. "How long have you been standing there, now?"
"Long enough to see a lot of things happen that makes me say 'it's about time'!" Perry jogged up the stairs causing his two reporters to follow him. "Can I assume you two have worked out some details?"
Clark reached out and took Lois's hand as they ascended the flight. "I think so, Chief."
"I think so.", Lois echoed.
When they got back to the news room and Lois sat at her desk, Clark leaned over her and asked, "Want to use your movie tickets, tonight?"
"Can you sit through Keanu Reeves on a bus one more time?"
"For you, I can."
"And can you guarantee not having to run off?"
"No, that I can't."
Lois pondered this. "And how do I know if your running away is honestly to go to help someone in distress, or just you getting away from the movie and me?"
Clark looked down at her fondly and stroked her silky hair with his hand. "You will have to trust me that I would never lie to you about having to go do my duty."
"My own boy scout."
"Mine and the rest of the city's."
"The city may have the rights to Superman, but Lois, you have my heart."
"Awww." Lois meant to be sarcastic, but her eyes glowed when she looked up at Clark.
Clark laughed. "This is going to work out just fine, Miss Lane, wait and see."
They spoke softly, avoiding the ears of the Planet's staff. Just Lois and Clark in their own secret world, their exclusive Superman club that only the very privileged could join.
Standing in his office, Perry White watched his two star reporters go back to work. The obvious signs were there. They were in love. The way Clark leaned over Lois to point out something on her computer screen and closed his eyes for a brief second as he inhaled her cologne, the way she touched his hand when she answered a question, the way they smiled, almost bashfully at each other, time and time again were all neon indicators to Perry. Even after Clark went back to his own desk, they kept meeting eyes and grinning. He thought about how their work was probably going to go slightly downhill for a while until they ironed out the new wrinkles in their relationship. He figured it was going to be impossible to get either of them to concentrate on anything but each other from now on. He considered how this was going to affect his crack reporting team and if his paper could be in serious trouble, here. For some reason, through all of this gloomy contemplation, Perry couldn't stop smiling. "It's about time," he said again. And he vowed never to let them know all he had seen on those steps above them in the basement. He was a newspaperman and knew the value of discretion.