By IRC Round Robin Fanfic
Submitted February 22, 1998
Summary: Lois and Clark's first visit to Smallville together gave us our first glimpse of what might be, and left us wanting more. What happened after Clark found himself in Lois's arms following his near-death experience? Here's a taste of what we hoped for in season one: a look into Clark's heart and Lois's mind as the seeds for their future start to grow. By Zoomway, ChrisM, DorDor, Eraygun, Mackteach and ChiefPam.
(In-Between Story for "Green, Green Glow of Home")
By Zoomway (firstname.lastname@example.org); ChrisM^ (email@example.com); DorDor (firstname.lastname@example.org); Eraygun (Eraygun@aol.com); Mackteach (Mackteach@aol.com); ChiefPam (email@example.com)
Clark and Trask plunged into the small pond behind the Kent farmhouse. Clark was fighting for his life, and the lives of his parents. Fighting a madman who wanted Superman dead. In Trask's warped mind, Superman was a threat to humanity, but Trask didn't care how many humans he had to destroy in the process. The green stone had taken his powers. Trask had said it came from Krypton. How could a piece of his homeworld destroy him? A million thoughts flashed through Clark's mind as he fought Trask with his last ounce of strength. Was Lois all right? Could she save his parents if he couldn't?
Finally, after what seemed a battle of hours, Trask began to weaken. Clark poised his fist in front of the madman's face.
"Kill me, Superman," Trask said, his breath ragged. "I would have killed you."
For some reason that phrase was all that was needed to disarm Clark. He felt sheer disgust that he would do anything with a motive resembling Trask's.
"That's *not* how I work," Clark said, and released him.
He turned his back on Trask and began wading back toward the farmhouse. With Trask defeated and his men already gone, Clark was confident the nightmare was finished. He reached for his glasses, floating on the surface. Dimly, in the distance, Clark heard an approaching vehicle. There was the sound of a pistol's slide being drawn back; Lois shouting "Clark!" He turned.
A shot rang out. Clark saw Trask, his pistol drawn but the life-light in his stunned eyes draining away. He sank into the pond. Clark's glance then shifted to Rachel Harris, her gun still pointed at the dying man. She looked nearly as stunned as Trask.
Clark sighed with relief and gratitude, but wondered how much having to kill a man would cost his friend Rachel. Clark finally made his way out of the pond, and Lois rushed to him. He had never seen such an expression of terror on her face. The moment she touched him, the expression dissolved to relief. They embraced each other. They couldn't speak. They didn't have to.
Clark held on to Lois, trying to catch his breath. Lifting space stations into space had been a piece of cake compared to what he'd just gone through. When the good guys fought the bad guys on TV, they made it look so easy. It hadn't been easy at all, though. He shuddered to think what might have happened to his parents and Lois, if Trask had won. He clung to Lois and felt her tighten her hold on him.
He'd never forget the look on her face as she'd hurried over to him after Rachel had killed Trask. Had there been more than friendship in her expression? He hoped so. He pulled back from her a bit so he could see her face again. It was still there! That look that held worry, caring, concern and something else. Could it be … love? Maybe? Just a little?
Overwhelmed by the possibility, he couldn't look in her eyes anymore. He dropped his head forward and touched his forehead to hers, not knowing how he should respond, or what he should say. It was almost as if he'd seen something private, something he wasn't supposed to know about … maybe something Lois didn't know about yet, either.
His mind in a whirl and his body trembling from the aftereffects of the fight and the chill of being in wet clothes, he once again felt Lois pulling him close to her. God, but this felt so good … so right. What he wouldn't give to be able to hold her like this every day. He put a hand up to caress the back of her head, while pressing her closer with his other arm. If only he could tell her what he was feeling. Should he tell her? What would she think?
"Lois," he whispered, "I—" Whatever he might have said was cut off by the sudden convergence of Rachel, two of her deputies and Jimmy.
"CK! Wow! I thought you were a goner!"
"Clark, are you all right?"
Clark felt Lois pull back from him, as if she had just remembered that they had an audience. He glanced at her face just before she turned to ask one of the deputies a question. Was that regret he'd seen there?
"Clark, Lois said your parents were in danger. Where are they?"
His parents! He'd forgotten about his parents! "They're in the shed, Rachel. I was trying to untie them when Trask … attacked me."
"CK, I tried calling Superman with the signal watch, but it didn't work."
Clark started to walked toward the shed, but he turned back and put a hand on Jimmy's shoulder. "That's okay, Jimmy. Thanks for trying to help."
"No problem. I got some pictures, too. Sure hope the Chief likes 'em."
"Good job, Jimmy," Clark said, tiredly. "I'm sure he will."
Jimmy trailed along beside Clark all the way to the shed, chattering away about how he'd seen the soldiers taking Clark out of the tent, and how he'd rushed into Smallville to get help for his friends. In spite of the bruises that Clark could feel forming in every place where Trask has punched or kicked him, Clark couldn't help but smile at Jimmy's enthusiasm. The kid was high on excitement, that's for sure.
Once inside the shed, Clark bent to help a deputy who was trying to loosen the heavy ropes around his parents and Wayne Irig. If he'd still had his powers, he could have snapped these in a second. But now his fingers were sore from the fight, and a bit numb from the cold water in the pond and he could barely make any headway. Jimmy produced a pocketknife with all kinds of weird gizmos on it—another STAR Labs techie thing, no doubt—and it wasn't long before everyone was free.
After being hugged by his mom and dad, and assuring them that he would be all right, Clark stepped back out into the sunshine and looked around for Lois.
For a moment, he didn't see her and felt an almost panicky feeling rise up within him. Was she all right? He had held her in his arms safe just a moment ago, hadn't he? Then his eyes caught sight of her and his pulse quickened. He picked up his step, almost running toward her.
She was talking to Rachel when he reached her, seemingly engrossed in the conversation. But looking at her, Clark couldn't help feeling she was being just a little too absorbed in it, especially after the moment they had just shared. And, even with notepad in hand, she was babbling. Clark had come to recognize the signs. She was trying to regain her composure—no wonder after what had happened. Had it been too fast? Had he given in to his feelings too much? But it had felt so natural and so right.
He wanted to reassure her, let her know that he was aware of what was happening between them, yet he also knew that she needed time. He didn't want to push her. He wanted to make sure she was ready and sure of the way she felt. Yet he ached to hold her close like he had before. He cleared his throat. "Lois …?"
If she had heard him, she gave no sign of it. But he had to admit that without superhearing his voice had barely been audible. "Lois?" A little louder this time.
"… and you were saying, Rachel?" Lois voice went up a notch in volume and intensity, too.
Rachel, unaware of the tension between the two people standing next to her, was clearly enjoying being the center of attention. For the moment at least, she didn't seem to consider Lois competition. "Well, when your young friend first talked to me — " she said, nodding her head toward Jimmy who was talking with some guards a little way off.
Not able to withstand her silence any longer, Clark reached out a hand and gently laid it on Lois's shoulder. "Lois, can we …?"
He felt her tense at his touch, and, hurting, withdrew his hand immediately. Rachel finally became aware of his presence and looked at him. "Clark, your parents are alright, aren't they?" she asked.
"Yes, they are," he said, a little absentmindedly, though. Lois was the one he wanted, needed, to talk to.
"That madman almost killed them, killed you … nearly killed all of you," Rachel said, her voice changing just a bit as she spoke. "If I hadn't …"
"You surely arrived in the nick of time," Lois said. "This will make a great …"
"Oh my god, I killed him …" Rachel's voice trailed off.
Clark, his own concerns momentarily forgotten, quickly went to her side and took her in his arms, hugging her close. "You did what was necessary, Rachel. You saved our lives."
"I know." She sniffed, drawing strength from his touch and reassurance. Then after a long moment, and pulling away from him, she became aware of his wet clothes. "Geez, Clark, you'll catch your death like this. You're dripping wet."
"Yes, you are," Lois chimed in, seeming to have found her voice at last. "Clark, I'll cover things here for us. Why don't you go up to the house with your parents and change. Take care of them … and have them take care of you. This is so awful. You see them so rarely …"
She was babbling again. Clark smiled. But at least she was taking notice of him again. And this was probably what she had to do. For now anyway. He drew a deep breath, trying to relax.
"Thanks, I appreciate that. If you need any help, don't hesitate to call, though."
He was becoming aware that he *was* getting cold, something he wasn't accustomed to. The wet clothes on his body felt uncomfortable. He would be glad to be out of them. His powers had been gone for almost a whole day after his brief exposure to the green rock the first time. There was no way of knowing how long the effect would last this time. It would be good to rest.
On impulse, he reached out and hugged Lois close briefly. She didn't stiffen as much this time, rather relaxing in his embrace briefly before withdrawing. "I will." She smiled. "You go and take of yourself and your folks. I'll see you for dinner. Speaking of your folks …"
Clark looked over her shoulder and saw his parents approaching. They seemed to have recovered from their ordeal with remarkable speed. Being Superman's parents had certain fringe benefits, like becoming accustomed to all sorts of "surprises." Yet he agonized over having endangered their lives. Nothing to be done about that, though, for the time being.
His mother came rushing toward them. "Clark! Lois! Let's get you out of the …"
"You both look like you could use some of Martha's chicken soup," Jonathan's deeper voice chimed in from behind.
"Sounds good," Lois and Clark responded as one.
"I was just about to come, Mom," he said, hugging her close. Then, before his mother could protest, quickly added. "Lois is going into town to cover the story for us. She said she would be back for dinner."
"Oh, she is?" For a moment, Martha looked as if she was about to argue, but then changed her mind. "Oh, all right. Don't be late, though."
Just then, Clark sneezed, once and then another time. "You better have some of that soup now," Lois said, giving his arm a quick squeeze before turning to Rachel. "Could you give me a ride into town, please?"
As Lois was turning to leave, his parents came up to either side of him, and taking him in the middle, gently but firmly steered him towards the house.
Once inside, he quickly changed into an old black track suit his mother had laid out for him. Then he sat at the kitchen table with them, just grateful for their safety and the hot tea he was sipping. They didn't talk much, but words were not necessary to communicate what they felt.
When he sneezed several times more, Martha got concerned, however, and went in search of her spare thermometer in spite of his protests. When he burst the second thermometer into pieces in as many days, he found himself being herded toward his bedroom. He gave in gracefully, though not until he had his mother's promise that she would wake him once Lois came back.
It was good to lie back against the pillows, he had to admit. He was tired, more tired than he remembered feeling in a long time. And then he remembered Lois. She was safe. He had held her in his arms. It was so right. And she would be there again eventually, she had to be. They would make it work somehow. He could feel her again now. She would be back soon. Sooner if he slept now. And she'd be with him in his dreams. He smiled and she smiled back at him as his eyes began to … were already closed.
Lois and Rachel sat silently in the squad car as they rode back to Smallville, the monotonous drive interrupted only by the crackle of static on the car's police radio.
Rachel sighed. She didn't realize she still had those *feelings* for Clark until she saw him at the festival the other day. It was bad enough that she had carried a torch for him through most of high school, while he dated that broom-riding cauldron stirrer Lana Lang. Once they broke up she always felt that sooner or later, she'd have a chance with Clark. But seeing him today with Lois, the way they hugged, the looks on their faces, she knew it was just another pipe dream. But Clark wasn't just a romantic fantasy of hers, he was also a good friend and if this one was *the one*, Rachel wanted to know more about her.
"So, Lois," she said, finally breaking the silence. "Tell me about you and Clark."
Lois pulled her glance from the window. Rachel could tell Lois had been mentally miles away.
"Me and Clark? I …he … that is *we* work together. We're partners."
"Uh huh," Rachel nodded as she took the main turnoff for Smallville. "I know that much, but … well … you're the one who asked Clark to dance."
Lois swallowed. "What makes you think I asked him to dance?"
"Martha told me, Lois. There's no secrets—"
"In a small town. Telephone, telegraph, tell Martha."
Rachel laughed. "Pretty much. At first I got the feeling that things were just 'strictly business' with you and Clark, but asking him to dance—"
Lois sighed loudly. "Okay, I asked him to dance. It was no big deal."
"No? You sure seem to make him happy."
Lois was feeling agitated, and didn't even know why. It was like being caught in public with her slip showing. "I doubt I make Clark 'happy'. It was … a dance. So we danced. End of story."
"If you say so, Lois."
Lois narrowed her eyes. "If you're afraid I'm poaching on your territory, you're mistaken."
"Take it easy," Rachel said. "Any 'territory' I had with Clark was ten years ago. I'm just trying to know you better."
Lois had her back up, her claws out and her swishing tail could snuff a candle at twenty paces. Why was she feeling like this? Like what? Threatened? She took a deep breath. "I'm sorry, Rachel, I guess this … well … it got to me."
Rachel understood. "Me too. I saw that crazy man about to kill Clark and … I guess instinct took over," Rachel said, and noticed Lois couldn't keep her hands still. "Clark really seems to care about you, Lois."
Oh, God, Lois thought, how far away *was* Smallville. "Clark is just that way. I think he'd pile a car into a tree if he could swerve and spare the life of a … gerbil. He's just considerate and sweet." Lois blushed. Sweet, I called him sweet.
"He is sweet," Rachel agreed. She could tell Lois was becoming increasingly uncomfortable and was going to drop the subject until she spotted someone rounding the corner of Main Street. "Oh, Lord, it's Lana."
Lois looked around in surprise, wondering at the exasperated tone in Rachel's voice. "Who?" she asked.
Rachel realized that her dislike of Lana Lang had caused her to say something she shouldn't have. She may not like Lois much. She may not want to see Lois and Clark end up together. But, if she told Lois about Lana's past relationship with Clark, somehow she thought it might be Clark who would be hurt by it. She didn't want that.
"Lana? Oh, she's … she's just someone who … she and I don't get along, that's all."
The reporter in Lois couldn't resist bait like that. "Why?"
"Why?" Rachel's mind went blank.
Lois turned in the seat to get another look at the attractive young woman. "Yes, why? She looks nice enough."
"Well, looks can be deceiving," Rachel murmured. She pulled the car into the parking lot for the sheriff's department. "Here we are! Now, what was it you wanted to find out?"
Lois let the subject of the other woman drop. She wasn't all that interested in anyone's small town rivalries anyway. "I wanted to contact my paper, see if we can run background checks on some of the names I overheard back at Irig's place. I'd like to see that the people who did this get prosecuted."
That sounded good to Rachel, too. At least having Lois occupied with her investigation would keep her from asking any more questions.
Back at the Kent farm, the deputies had done their jobs and left. Jonathan had driven Wayne into town so the doctor could take a look at his injured hand and Martha was fixing herself a cup of tea. She'd checked on Clark and was relieved to find him sleeping peacefully. What a day this had been!
When Clark had wanted to find a way to help people, none of them could have foreseen that there would be people like Trask out there … waiting, wanting to harm her son. He hadn't really known Clark … Superman … hadn't really cared to find out the truth about Superman. He'd only wanted to kill him. Such things were beyond her gentle understanding. She could hardly wait for Jonathan to get back. She wanted someone to hold … someone to hold her. The house was too quiet, and her thoughts were too scary. She picked up her tea and went to sit in Clark's room.
She sat looking at her son. She hadn't drawn the curtains nor turned the light on. The shadows were getting longer as the sun slowly traveled along its path to meet the horizon. Its last rays shone through the window and touched Clark's face and hair, seeming to caress him. His features were peaceful and relaxed in his sleep, a quiet counterpoint to the chaos that life seemed to keep throwing their way. Just then he stirred slightly, a slow smile spreading across his face. Then his lips were forming a word. Was he waking?
He didn't respond when she quietly whispered his name. She knew that his superhearing might not be back after his second encounter with the weird rock, but he had always responded to her when he was about to wake up long before his superhearing developed.
No doubt, Clark was still fast asleep. She bent closer as his lips moved again. This time, she was able to make out the word, "Lois …" Again the smile, this time followed by a frown. "Where …?"
Although she was quite sure that he wasn't aware of her presence, Martha reached out and gently took Clark's hand in hers as she had so many times when her boy had been troubled in his sleep. "Don't worry. She's safe." She squeezed his hand lightly. "Just go back to sleep."
His features relaxed again and he produced another, though unrecognizable grunt, before rolling over onto his side and entering a deeper level of sleep again.
Martha smiled in spite of the fears that still troubled her. She and Jonathan had been right all along. From the very beginning it had been clear that Lois was very important to Clark. Even without her psychology classes, she had been able to tell that Clark was falling for her and fast. And having seen him and Lois together, she sensed that that interest was not entirely one-sided. If only the kids would come to realize and acknowledge what they were feeling. They'd had a very close brush with death today. She knew how important it was for Clark to lead a normal life and to find that special someone to share it with. Like she and Jonathan did.
It was with immense relief that she heard the pickup pull into the yard outside. She got up from her chair as quickly and quietly as she could without disturbing Clark's sleep. Once she had closed the door to his room, she rushed out of the house to meet her husband. He opened his arms wide for her and hugged her close. They just held each other for a long time. Then Jonathan told her that Irig would be out of commission for a couple of weeks with his broken hand and fingers, but that there shouldn't be any permanent damage.
"I'm glad." Martha let out a sigh of relief. "I was worried about that."
"I volunteered Clark to help him plow the fields this fall." Jonathan grinned. "How is he?"
"He was still sleeping when I came out to meet you. And dreaming." She smiled, then sobered. "This was so close today …"
Jonathan drew her into another hug. "I know," he said, laying his arm around her and leading her toward the house. "Let's talk."
It was getting dark fast outside. Jimmy had spent the better part of the afternoon taking pictures and exploring the surroundings. The story had the feel of a front pager to him and he hoped that by having high quality shots, his name might make the front page, too.
Rumors had it that somewhere out here Superman had originally landed. Though he didn't give much for rumors, he thought it wouldn't hurt to explore a little while he was there. His exploration had taken him further than he had planned. And, although he didn't like to admit it, he had gotten himself lost very effectively.
He couldn't shake the feeling that he was moving in circles. He listened into the darkness, from which the noises seemed to be getting louder the longer he listened. There was an eerie sound… something … or someone must be following him. He quickened his step, only to have the sounds behind him pick up in speed, too.
He could feel his heart beating in his throat as he imagined some of Trask's men still on the loose. Eventually he thought he could make out a light somewhere in the distance. He sped up, first walking fast, then running toward it. Now there was no doubt anymore that he was being followed. More and more of the M&M's he had been munching on were falling out of the open bag he was still carrying.
His flight eventually took him into a yard and suddenly he felt himself cornered against the wall of a barn. He dropped the bag with the rest of the candy and backed away as far as he could. Then, turning against the barn wall, he leaned his head against it and closed his eyes, resigning himself to his fate.
The expected attack was a long time coming. Just the smacking noises kept coming closer and closer. Then with a loud bang, something fell over. There were voices from the house then and suddenly he recognized one of them.
"Dad, it's all right! Just Wilbur on the loose again. I'll take care of him."
Clark, by now well rested and mostly recovered by human standards, had been waiting with his parents for Lois to come back from town. He was making his way over to the barn and the toppled-over trash can when he saw a second shadow cowering in the darkness. After a moment's surprise, his eyes became accustomed to the dim lighting and he recognized it.
"Jimmy! What are you doing here, for Pete's sake? Why didn't you come in?"
"CK, he's there. I can hear him. He may be armed."
"Armed?" For a moment, Clark was baffled, then burst out laughing. "Armed? With a bit of dried muck maybe. But otherwise he's fairly harmless. Jimmy, meet Wilbur, our neighbor's prize hog and frequent runaway."
Jimmy breathed a sigh of relief. "Yeah sure, I knew that, CK, really. I was just … joking, that's all."
"Right Jimmy," Clark replied with a sly grin. "Why don't you come inside. Mom's just about finished fixing supper." And with that Clark led Jimmy into the farm house.
"Are you sure this is all you can tell me?" Lois demanded as she looked over her interview notes.
Ms. Sherman, the young African American woman who had been Trask's front person shook her head affirmatively.
"Look, Ms. Lane, I don't know anything about Bureau 29 …"
"39," Lois interrupted.
"Whatever," the woman replied in a voice tinged with exasperation and exhaustion. "I answered a blind ad in the Washington Post. I'm a single mother and I'd just lost my job. They promised me a steady paycheck."
"But can't you tell me where they're headquartered, or if …"
"I'm sorry. I don't know anything, really." Lois picked up her materials and began to walk away.
"But I will say one thing Ms Lane."
"What is it?"
"If you're a friend of Superman, tell him he'd better watch his back. Trask was a loony alright, but I think he was just the tip of the iceberg."
Lois grew thoughtful at that last statement. "OK, thanks." She turned and walked toward Rachel. She sighed and put her notepad in her case. "Well, that's that."
"No luck, huh?"
"Zilch. I've heard of government cover-ups, but this takes the cake." She glanced at her watch. "Yikes! I'm running late. I've gotta go."
"Want me to run you up to the Kents?"
Lois looked gratefully at Rachel. "Oh, could you?" She grinned. "Besides, you can tell me a 'Clark story' on the way out there."
Rachel grinned. "Deal." As she walked to the driver's side, she looked at Lois. "Lois?"
"Did Clark ever mention me?"
Lois saw the slight hopefulness in her eyes. She felt a twinge of … something. Jealousy? She dismissed the thought before it took deep root in her mind. She smiled warmly. "Just about the senior prom." She kept her fingers crossed behind her, glad to see that this little white lie made some of the shock over killing Trask leave Rachel's eyes. "But of course, he told me *his* version. I wanna hear *your* side of it."
A conspiratorial smile passed between them as they got into the squad car.
"Well," Rachel began her tale as she got them underway, "Clark and I hadn't really been dating for long…" A frown crossed her face, briefly. "He always was too busy chasing that bossy blonde piece."
"Who was that?" Lois asked, telling herself she only wanted the information to keep the story straight. Of course, she wasn't upset by hearing about Clark's love life, why should she be?
Rachel looked guilty. "Oh, it's not important, and it wasn't that bad. But I always had a soft spot for Clark," she continued, glossing over the depth of her feelings. "And when they quarreled that spring, well, I didn't mind, that's all."
"What did they fight about?" Lois asked, before she could stop herself.
"I don't know," Rachel confessed. "Clark would never talk about it, said it was private. And I guess you can't fault him for that."
No, you couldn't, Lois concurred silently, thinking back to the first time Clark had told her she could trust him. She hadn't believed him then … but now, well, she could see that she had reason to consider changing her mind.
"But anyway," Rachel continued, more cheerfully, "He picked me up in his Dad's pickup, and oh, my, he looked nice in his suit …"
"I'll just bet," Lois smiled.
"I had a pink dress — mind you, I never wore dresses much, but for the prom, you know …" and for Clark, she added mentally, "Well, my Pa bought me the prettiest dress in the store."
"I'm sure you looked great," Lois commented. Rachel was coming alive, telling this story, and it was good to see her back to normal. Lois saw people in shock fairly often, given her profession, but there was usually a moment when they managed to put the bulk of the emotions behind them. Rachel might still have some nightmares, but the memory probably wouldn't interfere with her daily life.
"It was a great night," Rachel continued, lost in happy remembrance. "We danced, and after the dance was over, we walked around for a little bit, under the stars … they never looked prettier."
"Did he … kiss you goodnight?" Lois wasn't sure why she asked, but she held her breath waiting for the answer.
"Yeah," Rachel half-laughed. "Just a little kiss, though," she clarified, gruffly. "And then over the summer, we were both busy, and we went to different colleges, so it never amounted to anything."
"Ah …" Lois didn't quite know what to say. "But it sounds like it was a great prom, anyway, that's good."
"Oh, it was," Rachel assented cheerfully. Then she grinned, just as the squad car pulled up in front of the Kent house. "And that blond hussy didn't have a date to the prom at all." Lois had to laugh at the smug satisfaction on the sheriff's face. "Serves her right, for not appreciating what she had."
"Well, here we are … thanks very much for the ride, Rachel." Smiling her thanks, Lois climbed out of the car. "Maybe I'll see you again before we leave?"
"Maybe so — you take care, Lois."
They waved goodbye as Rachel pulled away, then Lois turned to head into the house.
Clark wondered if his powers were returning, he wasn't sure if he heard Lois near him or felt her near him. Either way, he moved to the front porch and saw her exit the car. Rachel, his past, driving away. Lois, his future, approaching him. He blushed. How presumptuous to call Lois his future.
She smiled at him as she approached. She was so beautiful. Clark sat on the steps and patted his hand on the step next to him. Lois's smile widened. "You farm boys sure know how to show a girl a good time," she laughed.
Clark half-smiled. He'd love to show her 'a good time' if she'd just let him. "Only the best for you, Lois."
Lois put her hand on his knee, "You look a lot better than the last time I saw you. You okay?"
"Yeah," he said softly. Her touch always undid him. "I feel a lot better. How about you?"
"Okay," she nodded. "I think Rachel is over the big shock …at least enough to tell some stories about her senior prom … Romeo."
"Ouch," Clark frowned.
"It was sweet," Lois laughed. "Some dancing, you looking handsome in your suit, and even a kiss."
Clark adjusted his glasses. "It was a little kiss."
Lois leaned to the side until her shoulder nudged his. "How little?"
"Just … um … a brief … you know … kiss."
Lois shook her head. "You romantic devil."
"I'd just broken up with someone … I … wasn't feeling romantic."
Lois patted his back. "Sorry."
"It's okay, it was over ten years ago."
"But she meant a lot to you."
Clark smiled again. "That's the funny thing. She didn't really. I mean I liked her," he added quickly. "But she kept pushing for more between us, and I just got more—"
He nodded. "Very. I just didn't feel what she wanted me to feel, and then one day it all blew."
Lois was sorry she'd broached the subject. "Well," she said, in a lighter tone. "You made quite an impression on Rachel."
"She was great. She knew I wasn't really ready to get involved again or anything, and didn't take advantage of that. We just had … fun," he said, and then locked his eyes with Lois. "Like when we were dancing at the festival."
Lois's face was burning. "Yeah, I had fun, too, Clark," she said, still holding the eye contact, and then Jonathan stepped out onto the porch.
Lois could not have leapt up faster from her spot on the step next to Clark if she'd had superpowers. She didn't know why she felt guilty. She and Clark had done nothing. Maybe it was what she'd been thinking as she gazed into his deep brown eyes.
Jonathan chuckled. "Easy, Lois. I was just bringing plates out for you and Clark. This is where he ate supper as a little boy."
"Dad," Clark grimaced.
"Really?" Lois smiled.
"All the time," Jonathan said, handing a plate to Lois. "Even back then there was something in Clark wanting to just get out or bust."
"Here, son." He handed Clark a plate. "That's how he wound up in Metropolis, though to hear him talk after meeting you, Lois—"
"Jonathan!" Martha called. "Would you *please* help me with the pie?"
"Coming, dear," Jonathan called out. Then he turned back to the young couple, leaned over and winked at Lois. "When she gets *that* tone in her voice—"
Lois and Clark watched as Jonathan made all deliberate speed in getting back into the house. They each then concentrated on the food on their plates, taking great care not to look at one another.
Clark was trying to think of *something* to say … a way to apologize for his well-meaning parent without making it sound like he thought he needed to apologize for him, when he thought he heard a tiny giggle coming from Lois's direction. He risked a glance at her and sure enough she was pretending to eat, but was actually doing more giggling than eating.
Now that he could see she wasn't upset, he was able to see the funny side of it as well. "Lois, I—"
"No, Clark," she somehow managed to say. "There's no way you could top that, so don't even try. Let's just eat, okay?"
"Okay." Clark grinned and then had a thought. "He'll be back later on with the pie, you know."
Lois couldn't contain her laughter anymore. The thought of what else Jonathan might accidentally reveal sent her into fresh giggles, which had Clark laughing, too. The sounds of their laughter reached inside the house, where Martha, Jonathan, and Jimmy were sitting around the kitchen table.
"Wonder what's so funny," Jimmy said, and he started to rise up from his chair.
Men! Martha thought in gentle exasperation. Why can't they ever see when it might be better for them to leave two people alone for a while. "Jimmy!" she exclaimed, "why don't you have another helping of meat? How about some more potatoes?"
Jimmy looked undecided, but the food was so much better than what he was used to getting back in Metropolis that he couldn't resist. "Sure, Mrs. Kent. This is really good."
"And there's pie for dessert, too," Jonathan added. He looked over at his wife. "I'll just go see if Lois and Clark are ready for some."
"No, Jonathan—" but she was talking to air. She loved her husband, really she did, but sometimes he was just too darn helpful.
"Hey, you two," she heard him say, "how about some p—?" Then there was a strange noise … a mixture of surprise and discomfiture, which she couldn't quite interpret, then she heard his footsteps returning to the kitchen.
He sat back down at his place and retrieved his napkin, all without saying anything. Jimmy went on eating, oblivious to anything else. Martha waited a bit, then couldn't resist asking, "Well, did they want some pie?"
Only then did he look at her, and she could see a distinct twinkle in his eyes, "I don't think they're interested in pie, Martha. In fact, they weren't even on the porch anymore."
Martha smiled contentedly, and then offered Jimmy another helping of peas.
"It's really beautiful out here, Clark. It's too bad we have to go back to Metropolis tomorrow, but …"
"I know. We've got a story to write."
"Well, a story to finish, anyway. I called in the bare bones of it from Rachel's office."
They were quiet for a bit as they made their way a little further down the road, moving away from the house. Lois had to admit that this trip had allowed her to see some different sides to Clark, and she kind of liked what she'd seen. It wouldn't change anything, of course. They were partners, that's all. Partners … friends. That's all. Yep, that's all.
Clark heard Lois sigh as they walked together. "Tired, Lois?"
"Huh? Oh, yes, Clark. A little, anyway. I guess."
"Me, too. It's been quite a day."
"Yes. At least," she added, "Superman doesn't have to worry about Trask anymore." And, she thought to herself determinedly, if she had anything to say about it, he wouldn't have to worry about those other people that Ms. Sherman had referred to either.
Superman again, Clark thought gloomily. He'd kind of hoped that maybe she might like him a little more after spending so much time together … after that hug this afternoon. Maybe that would be asking too much, though.
"Yeah," he agreed. "At least Superman is safe."
Lois heard Clark sigh and felt a little guilty. He'd almost been killed today because of Superman and here she was reminding him of it. She moved closer to him and took his arm. "And we had some fun at the festival, too. Thanks for winning that teddy bear for me."
"Yes, we did have fun."
She could hear a smile in his voice now. "And I enjoyed the dancing, too."
"Me too, Lois."
They walked a little further, arm in arm, and then Lois returned to what was always uppermost in her mind … the story. "So, Clark, how do you suppose we can find out more about this Bureau 39, anyway?"
Clark suppressed a sudden laugh. That was his Lois. Persistent, courageous, tenacious and fascinating. He wasn't first in her heart yet, but he believed that after today he now occupied a small part of her thoughts, and for the moment, that was enough.
So he walked with her, enjoying the feel of her arm through his, and listened to her plans for their next story.