Summary: Lois and Clark, visibly in love, make a striking couple at a Valentine's Day dance — and Perry congratulates himself on bringing his two reporters together.
(hopefully) in the not too distant future…
Perry White loved Valentine's Day. Hearts, flowers—yes, he was an old romantic at heart. Just ask his wife. Next to Elvis' birthday, Valentine's Day ranked right up there with his favorite holidays. He'd jump at any chance to celebrate the occasion, even if it meant wearing a tux and rubbing elbows with the uppercrust of Metropolis' society. For Perry, dancing with his wife and socializing with friends was the perfect night out, and the party they were to attend that evening was also a media event—a fund-raiser hosted by the Metropolis Museum's auxiliary group.
The gala affair was in full swing. Perry and his wife had been enjoying the company of friends for the better part of an hour when Lois Lane arrived, apparently alone. Perry nudged his wife, who excused herself to seek out Lois. Alice returned shortly, arm-in-arm with her, chatting amiably about the event, who was there and who wasn't, Lois's dress, and of course—Clark. Lois laughed, assuring the Whites her partner would be attending the event, but would be arriving late. Until then, she had some leads to check out regarding the Museum's new expansion project and its acquisition of some nearby property. Perry just shook his head. Lois would always be the reporter, never letting a social occasion stand in the way of getting a story. She had quite a nose for sniffing out a good one, becoming focused and absorbed in the task at hand, like a dog relishing a particularly juicy bone.
Maybe for once Clark could get her to relax and enjoy the evening without thinking too much about work. Clark Kent—Perry contemplated the changes that had occurred in Lois's life since the day he assigned him as her partner. At first he thought he'd made a terrible mistake, but he refused to back down on his decision. A driven, determined woman, Lois fought hard to keep her standing on the news team, never quitting when things got rough, and always taking chances to prove her brains were more important than her looks when going after the big one. She was a feisty individual who railed at the thought of losing her independence as an investigative reporter by having some "hack from nowheresville" as she put it, tag along while she was hot on the trail of a story. She hadn't earned the nickname "Mad Dog Lane" for nothing.
Perry remembered how she battled him tooth and nail at first, but realizing the futility of her protests, Lois begrudgingly settled into a routine with her new partner that slowly transformed this hardened, cynical career woman into a softer, more caring version of herself. Maybe Kent just brought out the best in her—in any event, he certainly was the best thing that could have happened to Lois Lane. After the Claude fiasco, he wondered if she'd ever trust anyone again—if she could ever work that close with another man as an equal. Others tried and failed miserably. Until Kent came along, she took too many chances, putting herself in dangerous situations more often than he cared to think about. Even that business with Superman nearly destroyed her effectiveness as a crack reporter. She just got too close to the superhero. And Luthor—well they all suffered for that one. As a matter of fact, if it weren't for Clark, she might not be here tonight, tracking down leads for her next story. He didn't know what it was about the man, but the day he met him, he knew there was something special about Kent. Even though he didn't hire him right away, his character exuded confidence, strength (he never forgot that first handshake—darn near broke his fingers), stability, and a worldliness that belied his small-town upbringing. Clark Kent was a gentleman from the word go.
In any event, Perry was proud of his star reporter—he would have been pleased to have a daughter like Lois. Oh, they had butted heads many times, but when all was said and done, they usually ended their confrontations with a new respect for each other, and unlike many reporters Perry had worked with through the years, she rarely let him down. He chuckled when he thought about all the times Lois figured she had him wrapped around her little finger. Little did she know…
"What are you laughing about, dear?" his wife asked.
"Oh, nothing—just thinking about how making Lane and Kent partners was one of the better decisions I've made in my long career!" he said, as he patted his wife's hand. She smiled and nodded in agreement.
He continued to watch Lois as she worked the room, charming the elderly gentlemen involved in the philanthropic project, and impressing their wives with her knowledge of their charity work and support of the Museum. A couple of years ago, she would have turned her nose up at a story like this, and by-passed it for something flashier—in her opinion—more newsworthy. But she learned a hard lesson when Clark submitted his first free-lance piece, scooping a story she had been assigned, but too "busy" to cover. His initiative won him a job at The Planet, and to Lois' distaste, the honor of becoming her "partner."
Lost in thought, he almost failed to notice the other half of the famous reporting team's arrival. He was nearly an hour late. Spotting the Whites, Clark greeted Alice, and spoke briefly to his boss before excusing himself to look for his partner. Clark offered no real explanation for his lateness, just that he was unavoidably detained. Perry watched him as he made a circuit of the room.
Clark searched for her in the crowded hall. He knew she was close by. He was attuned to her as he had never been to anyone else in his whole life. He made his way around the gallery, greeting colleagues and speaking briefly to acquaintances, surreptitiously scanning the knots of people gathered here and there throughout the room—wanting to surprise her before she became aware of his presence. He found her, over by the double doors leading to the atrium. She was talking to a white-haired gentleman, one of the museum's benefactors. Leaning against one of the pillars in the gallery, he tilted his head, concentrating on their voices, not wanting to eavesdrop, but hoping to detect a lull in their conversation so he could tactfully interrupt.
"…I hope you realize how much this addition to the Museum will mean to all of us…a wonderful idea…Mr. Kent and I would like very much to write a series of articles on this most generous gift to the city."
"Ms. Lane, it would give me a great deal of pleasure to meet with both of you about this pet project of mine. There are also several other people you should speak with…" Their voices blended with the crowd, and other snatches of conversation intruded. Clark edged closer to the couple, once more picking up on their words. "…Monday… museum director…thank you so much, you've been very kind." As they ended their conversation, Clark placed a hand on her shoulder.
"Sir, do you mind if I steal Ms. Lane away from you?"
"Clark—you made it!" Her voice betrayed her delight.
"Not at all, Mr. Kent, you go right ahead. It's a pleasure seeing you again. We'll be talking soon." With that the elderly gentleman left them in search of his cronies and a refill for his drink.
"Ms. Lane, you look absolutely incredible tonight." His eyes devoured every inch of her figure, causing her to blush. Dressed in an off-the-shoulder, full length red gown, her hair piled high on her head with soft curls brushing her neck and gently framing her beautiful face, she looked like a dream.
"You are as handsome as ever, Mr. Kent," she said, thinking that Clark looked as if he had just stepped out of an ad in one of her favorite magazines. She smiled sweetly, working her magic, melting his heart as no one else ever could. "And if you keep flattering me like that, we'll never make it through the evening—we'll have to leave early and people will talk!" Though she gently teased him, there was something in her eyes that promised…everything.
He bent his head down to whisper, "I am so sorry I couldn't get here sooner, but I see you were in good hands." He nuzzled her ear as he spoke, drinking in her perfume, lightly brushing her cheek with his lips.
Her eyes closed. "I understand. You can tell me about it later," she whispered back. They stood close together, cheek to cheek, hands entwined—oblivious to everything and everyone in the room.
"My, my…a walking Valentine!" Perry White's voice broke the spell.
"Uh, Perry…enjoying yourself?" Clark asked, breaking into a grin.
Lois looked up at her boss, smiling radiantly, not wanting to let go of Clark's hands.
"Tremendously, Clark! You know, I do believe you're the handsomest couple here," he said. He looked appreciatively at his two favorite employees. Perry had never seen them looking so happy. It was a miracle they finally worked out their differences, and discovered how very much in love they were with each other.
While Perry felt it was just as much his doing getting them together, he would never know what really happened—what removed that final barrier between them. All he could do was speculate. He knew something had sent Lois into an emotional tailspin—something that nearly destroyed their budding relationship. He often wondered if it had anything to do with Superman, but he never asked, and neither offered any information. Even Clark was distraught at the time—she hardly spoke to the poor man, and they could barely work together. All he remembered for sure was the day things finally came to a head, Lois was unusually quiet, and she looked incredibly sad. He remembered seeing Clark place a single red rose on her desk when she wasn't looking. And how she fell apart when she discovered it. He recalled how gentle Clark had been, whisking her away from prying eyes, comforting her in the privacy of Perry's office. He would be embarrassed to admit that while he couldn't hear what they said, he could read lips (a skill he acquired during his reporting days), and the words "I love you" were repeated over and over again. He remembered both of them calling in sick the next day. After that, well, Lane and Kent became a real team.
Perry was returned to the present by Clark, who was in the middle of telling him something about Lois getting an interview with the major benefactor of the museum project.
"Clark, we can talk about it at the office. Why don't you two just go and have some fun!" He grinned at them. "I see Alice waving—I think she wants to dance. By the way—good job!" He reached out to take Lois's hand, when she suddenly gave him a kiss on the cheek.
"Thanks, Perry. And, Happy Valentine's Day!" she whispered.
He shook Clark's hand, exchanged a few more pleasantries, and excused himself to dance with his wife. As the Whites glided across the floor to the strains of a favorite slow piece, they observed Lois and Clark dancing quietly in a corner of the room. It wasn't long before the couple slipped away, unnoticed by most of the guests.
"How lucky they are," his wife whispered to him.
"How so, my dear?" Perry asked.
"Why, just discovering each other, their whole lives ahead of them—I do envy those two. What? Why are you smiling like that?" she asked suspiciously.
"Oh, nothing. I just love it when a plan comes together," he said to her, executing one of his famous dips, leaving his wife breathless and giddy. "Come on, let's go make some music of our own."