By B.B. Medos [firstname.lastname@example.org]
Summary: A story in which Lois and Clark are taking the time to actually date, Lois doesn't know THE secret, and the happy couple — finding themselves in a rut — try to figure a way out of it.
"Characters in this story are copyrighted by December 3rd Production, Warner Brothers, and ABC. No infringement is intended in any part by the author, however, the ideas expressed within this story are copyrighted to the author." Author's Note: This story started out as a wild idea with two very basic premises: Lois and Clark are taking the time to actually date and Lois doesn't know THE secret. Then it asks a simple question: What happens if Superman gets bored?
Maybe *I* was bored the day this popped into my head because I got so far and then it just sort of fizzled but I like it even at that. It doesn't have even a smidgen of an a-plot, and, for that matter, it barely has a b-plot, but, whatever, I hope you enjoy this little bit of fluff and it helps relieve LCWS. :-)
Her head tilted so she could see his face clearly, Lois checked to make sure he was even listening to her. He'd been extremely quiet all evening and she wasn't in the mood to be ignored again. "Clark!"
His gaze swung downward to connect with hers. "What?"
"Finally!" She grinned as he actually focused on her face. His blank expression let her know he had absolutely no idea what she'd said mere seconds before. He was normally an extremely attentive date, when he wasn't running off on her and he hadn't even been doing that lately. Tonight, though, the man's body didn't have to leave, his mind was a million miles away for some reason and she'd put up with it as long as she was going to. They'd almost walked all the way back to her apartment from their Friday night movie date and he'd barely opened his mouth the entire way. "Want to tell me what's wrong?"
"Wrong?" He frowned, apparently honestly not understanding what she was talking about. "Nothing's wrong. The movie was great. Why would you say anything was wrong?"
Her eyebrows rose because she suspected he wouldn't be able to tell her what movie they'd seen if she pressed the issue. "Primarily because you aren't paying ANY attention to your date. Not a good sign, Clark."
"Oh. Sorry." He grinned and the hand at her waist tugged her closer to his side. Then he shrugged. "I've been trying to figure something out. Guess I lost track … "
Lois laughed at his sheepish expression. "I noticed. Want to talk about it?"
"There's not really anything … "
Her sharp tone and irritated glare told him he'd better explain his distracted behavior, fast, or he was going into her doghouse. Big time. He smiled and shook his head. "Okay, but it's really nothing. I was just wondering about this sudden spell of good luck the world is having."
"Not much seems to be happening lately, that's all."
"And this is a bad thing?"
Since she was looking at him as if he'd lost his mind, he grimaced. How had he gotten himself into this? He couldn't very well blurt out he was depressed because he didn't seem to be needed as Superman anymore. Then he frowned. This was Lois Lane he was talking to. He stared down at her intently. "No, it's not a bad thing, but weren't you the one complaining just today at the Planet that the news was boring lately? That we haven't had a really good assignment in weeks? That all the bad guys seemed to have crawled underground? That there haven't even been any disasters, natural OR man-made, in weeks."
Lois threw up her hands in surrender. "Okay, okay. I see your point." Her brow wrinkled because she was truly puzzled now. Clark rarely brought up work on their dates. Usually he made a point of steering her clear of anything remotely connected to their jobs. So he must really be bugged about something. She opened her mouth to ask him what was really bothering him, but they reached the front steps of her apartment building and she decided it could wait.
Once they were inside, she automatically started pulling out things for coffee without even asking him if he was staying. Abruptly, it hit her they'd fallen into a predictable pattern on their dates and she nibbled on her bottom lip uncertainly before glancing over at him. "You ARE staying for a little while, aren't you?"
"Sure." His eyes met hers. "I mean, if you want me to."
"Of course, I do. I mean, if you want to."
Those two syllables said it all. He was exasperated with them going in verbal circles. Suddenly the whole thing became funny and she giggled. When he eyed her oddly, she only laughed harder. Finally, she was able to catch her breath. "Clark, sometimes I think we're WAY too comfortable with each other."
"And this is funny to you?"
"Well, no." She shrugged when he frowned in reaction. "But the way we're acting IS."
His frown became more intense. "And how are we acting?"
Eyeing his extremely masculine, irritated frown, she sighed, knowing it was probably a bad idea to even broach the topic given the mood he seemed to be in. "I'm not sure you want to hear this."
"Oh, okay—but don't say I didn't warn you—we're acting like an old married couple stuck in a rut, IF you must know."
Clark opened his mouth to dispute her words, then abruptly stopped and snapped it shut. She was right and he was appalled. How in the world had this happened? Even as he asked himself the question, he knew the answer, primarily because he'd been brooding about the very thing all evening.
Or rather the lack of him, which was a rather mind- boggling realization.
He slowly sank down onto her couch, deep in thought. For the last week or so, things had been so quiet around Metropolis, around the world even, he and Lois had been able to spend time together almost every night after work. It had truly been an enjoyable change, but she was right, they HAD fallen into a rather predictable routine.
Lois brought the tray with their coffee mugs and a plateful of assorted cookies over to the couch, sat down at his side and handed him a mug. When he didn't respond immediately, she shook her head. "Well, at least being ignored is something NEW. Or am I boring you into a stupor?"
"What?" He blinked at her and took the mug. Then her words registered and he grimaced. "I'm sorry. You ARE NOT boring me. I was just thinking about how much time we've spent together this last week or so. It has been different and I guess we HAVE gotten into a rut."
"I'll say." Studying his face for a moment, she sighed. "So, you're not bored with me, but are you … tired of dating me?"
"Will you stop saying things like that! I could never be bored with you OR tired of you." His eyes met hers openly and honestly. "NEVER."
She smiled softly after his fervent reassurance, then tilted her head to look at him more closely. "But something's wrong, isn't it?" He started to deny it and she glared him into silence. "Look, if you don't want to talk about it, that's fine, but, please—don't tell me nothing is wrong. I know you too well."
Clark took a sip of coffee to give himself time to think of an explanation she'd buy. Nothing came to mind, so he stuck with the basic truth because he did need to talk about it. "The only thing wrong is things have been so quiet lately I feel useless."
"Useless? Clark, you're not useless. That's the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard. Why do you feel useless?"
"I don't know. I guess, I've gotten used to action and always being on the go and now … "
Lois watched his face, unsure whether to try to tease him out of his mood or be sympathetic. She sighed and reached over to squeeze his hand after he set his cup down on the tray. "We ARE going through a slow period at work right now and I understand how you feel. Believe me, it's happened before."
"Not like this."
"Worse than this." He looked skeptical and her head bobbed up and down, emphatically. "Yes, Clark, much worse than this. The winter before you came to Metropolis, there was a month or so there I thought the paper was going to close down. The only thing happening in Metropolis was snow, and even that wasn't enough to be news. Perry was close to committing suicide from sheer boredom. Of course, he didn't. He amused himself by making the rest of us even more miserable."
Clark chuckled, knowing she was probably quite accurate about Perry's reaction. He understood what she was saying about work, but it didn't help with Superman. He shrugged. "Still—"
"Neither one of us is useless and you know it." An impish grin spread across her face and she leaned towards him. "Especially not you."
Mesmerized by her sparkling eyes, he smiled in spite of his black mood. "And why is that, Ms. Lane?"
"Because, Mr. Kent, you've kept me from being bored during this slump. That's a difficult job and I appreciate your efforts."
He couldn't hold back an amused chuckle when she leaned over and expressed her gratitude by kissing him gently on the cheek. As she pulled back, he agreed softly. "And an important one, because it keeps you from driving everyone else crazy."
"Let's not get carried away, farmboy."
Clark laughed out loud at her growled mutter and Lois grinned in response. Reaching down, she picked up the tray and carried it back to the kitchen. Feeling as if he'd suddenly awakened from a long sleep, his eyes followed her graceful motions in amazed silence as she moved around the kitchen putting things away, guiltily realizing he really hadn't been paying Lois much attention all evening. He hadn't even noticed how great she looked, and she did look gorgeous, even in ordinary blue jeans and a simple white blouse.
Of course, now that he was paying attention, he honestly had to admit there wasn't anything simple OR ordinary about the way the blouse and jeans hugged her body like a second skin. Lois did love tight clothing. His own jeans suddenly became uncomfortably tight and it was almost reassuring. At least, his body was functioning properly if his mind wasn't.
When Lois returned to the living room and perched at the other end of the couch, cross-legged and facing him, he frowned slightly, then leaned back and grinned at her. "I suppose you're right."
"I'm always right, but to what are you referring this time?"
He ignored her teasingly purred brag. "About keeping each other from being bored. That's probably why we've gotten into such a routine lately. Misery loves company. More or less."
"Mmm." Lois pulled her knees up and hugged them, then studied her nails absently, musing softly. "Like I said, we're too comfortable with each other." Noticing his frowning reaction to her words, she hastily amended. "Not that it's a bad thing."
All she got from him was a grunt and she rolled her eyes. Leaning forward with her arms braced on her knees, she insisted. "It's NOT a bad thing. From my standpoint, it's a great thing."
"What do you mean?"
"I mean comfortable is nice for a change. Very nice." He continued to look extremely skeptical, so she sighed and tried again. "In the past, my relationships with the male of the species have been full of tension. I always ended up trying to act the way they expected, or what I THOUGHT they expected. It's nice to know I can be myself with someone, that they can see both the good and the bad and still LIKE me. That's what I mean by comfortable. With you, there's no pressure."
Clark smiled his agreement, finally understanding what she meant. He felt the same way about her. He'd always felt relatively relaxed around Lois, even though he still had to be careful. Then his eyes narrowed. For some reason, her last words didn't sit well. "No pressure?"
"You know what I mean."
Lois actually blushed and his eyebrows rose. His voice lowered to little more than a rumble. "No, I don't think I do. Please explain what you mean by NO pressure."
"Clark!" She glared at him and he glared right back. Seeing he wasn't going to back down, she relented. Just a little. "Okay, there IS pressure, just not nearly as much as with other men."
She hadn't backed down far enough to his way of thinking and he scowled at her. In fact, he was pretty sure she'd only made things worse. Somehow their discussion had gotten turned around and suddenly his male pride was on the line. Again.
Not at all surprising around Lois, but that didn't make him feel any better.
In the middle of his mental grumblings, it occurred to him she was right. Especially lately. He'd been so preoccupied with the lack of need for Superman's services, he'd unconsciously slipped back into their old familiar friendship. His friendship with Lois was just as comfortable and reassuring to him as it was to her.
Superman had done it to him again!
Clark's suddenly booming laughter almost made her bounce off the sofa in surprise. Eyeing him suspiciously, she straightened. "What's so funny?"
"Us." She didn't look convinced and he chuckled. "We HAVE been in a rut, but not necessarily the way you meant earlier."
"Oh?" His brown eyes were dancing as he grinned at her and Lois suddenly realized she wasn't nearly as comfortable as she'd thought she was. Nervously, she started to get off the couch. She couldn't move and her eyes widened as she realized why.
Clark was holding her feet in his lap.
Why he was holding them and how they'd gotten there in the first place, Lois had no idea. One second her feet had been in perfectly safe and neutral territory on the couch between them. The next, his fingers were wrapped around her ankles as they rested on his thighs. Swallowing, she attempted to slowly ease them off his lap.
Apparently, he wasn't ready to let go. His thumb rubbed the skin above one shoe, ever so softly.
Her breath hissed out in reaction. "Stop doing that!"
Twinkling brown eyes told her he knew exactly what she was referring to. Lois refused to play his game. Instead, she tried tugging her feet away again while glaring at him.
They were her feet, after all.
Clark tugged back harder and she ended up sliding down the couch until her neck was cushioned on the arm. He chuckled at her startled expression as he slipped one shoe off, then the other. Tossing them on the floor, he turned back to challenge with a masculine grin. "Still feel like we're in a rut?"
"Ha! Ha! Very funny. Now, can I have my feet back?"
He actually appeared to give the matter serious thought before shaking his head deliberately back and forth. His attention returned to her feet. Holding both of them cradled in his hands, he studied them intently.
She stared at him, astonished by his behavior. "Clark?!? I want—"
"You have beautiful feet." Ever so slowly, the fingers of one hand rubbed up and down along the top of one foot, in a soft caress.
Lois shivered and swallowed, uncertainly. "I don't think this … I'm not … I mean, they're just feet."
"They're gorgeous just like the rest of you. And such a contradiction—like the rest of you." Picking up one foot in both hands, he began massaging the arch with his thumbs.
She bit back a moan of pure bliss and tried to concentrate on his words instead of his actions. It was difficult. The evening had taken such a bizarre and unexpected turn, she wasn't sure what to say or do next. Wide-eyed, she watched his slow, sure movements, frozen in place by both the exquisite warmth and tenderness of his hands and the look on his face. "What do you mean by contra—" His thumb pressed on a particularly sensitive spot on the pad of her foot and the moan finally slipped out.
Smiling knowingly, Clark continued to firmly rub in slow circles. Glancing in her direction, he shrugged. "The contradiction is that your feet look just as fragile and delicate as you do—but I've seen you take down men twice your size with one kick."
"Oh … " Lois blinked after her soft whisper. She wasn't sure if she was responding to his incredible statement or the pleasure-pain he was causing with his hands. He transferred his attention to the other foot and she whimpered. "Ooohhh, god, Clark … that feels wonderful."
"So lay back and enjoy it."
Under his exasperated look, Lois forced herself to close her eyes and do as he ordered. Finally, she sighed softly. "I still can't believe you're doing this, but I'm not complaining. Thank you."
"You're welcome. Now, shut-up and enjoy it."
Without opening her eyes, Lois stuck her tongue out at him then had to struggle to swallow a giggle when he promptly tickled the arch of her foot. "Hey, cut that out!"
Clark chuckled at her one-eyed glare and obediently went back to work on her foot. She stopped glaring and settled back against the cushions happily. Smiling, he continued the foot massage as he watched her blissful expression of contentment.
His smile faded slightly as he realized she was back to looking comfortable while he was becoming distinctly uncomfortable. He turned his attention back to the foot in his hands but instead of thinking about muscles and nerves, he was only conscious of the combination of silky skin under his fingertips and soft moans of delight reaching his ears. He swallowed hard before turning to stare at the open window, wondering distractedly where a call for help was when he needed it.
Suddenly, Clark was angry with himself. Talk about being in a rut. For months now, one of his biggest worries was that his constant running off was going to drive Lois farther and farther away and now he was WISHING for an excuse to run?
So what if Superman wasn't needed by the world at the moment. Lois needed him and he needed her. God, did he need her. Without conscious thought, his gaze returned to her foot and tracked back up to the soft smile on her face.
The second his hands stopped their wonderful massage, her eyes popped opened to find him watching her intently. Their eyes met and held. "Are you finished?"
"I don't think so."
"Huh?!? What do you mean?"
"I'm still climbing out of the rut."
Her mouth dropped open in surprise as he 'climbed' closer by scooting down the couch under her legs, then twisting sideways to lean over her semi-reclining form. Her eyes widened even more as he propped his elbow on the back of the couch and looked down at her. "Lois, I'm sorry. I have been acting stupid, haven't I?"
"Instead of accepting and enjoying our time together, I've been questioning it." He smiled, determinedly. "But not any more."
She licked her lips nervously, even though her eyes were starting to twinkle. "Clark, I didn't mean … "
"I know, Lois, but I do."
She didn't challenge his husky whisper. She couldn't. He murmured the words practically against her mouth, literally stealing her breath away as he leaned over her. His other arm drifted around her waist and completed the job of shifting her the rest of the way into his lap without his mouth ever stopping its assault on hers.
His tongue flicked out to rub against her lips and Lois completely forgot about disagreeing. She moaned instead as her arms slid around his neck.
She tasted so good, so sweet, Clark couldn't make himself stop nibbling at her mouth. His arms instinctively tightened to keep her cradled against his chest even as he fought his way through an incredible rush of desire.
Somehow Lois found enough breath to whisper against his lips. "What just happened?"
Clark tore his lips away from hers reluctantly and lifted his head. After a few seconds, he smiled. One hand came up to brush her hair back before cupping her cheek and his eyes glittered into hers as he confided with a soft chuckle. "I'm not sure, but I'm certainly not bored anymore."