By Marlisha <Marlisha@aol.com>
Submitted April 26, 1998
Summary: After too many days in a row of working too hard, Lois and Clark are both punchy from lack of sleep. But are their lowered barriers leading them to confess feelings they've kept hidden?
Author's note: "Thank you" to my SE's Matthew and Corry for helping me with this story and to Brian for reading it and saying that he liked it even though he has never seen an episode of L&C in his entire life.
Any kind of comment greatly appreciated — thank you <g>.
While the rest of the Daily Planet's newsroom bustled with action Lois Lane stiffled a yawn. She put her legs on the desk, hoping that this change in position would allow her blood to flow more freely. She felt tired. She had now worked for ten days in a row due to the latest Intergang scoop they were working on. All day, they had tried to interview officials and politicians or get new information and evidence. And at night, they were on stakeout or meeting sources and informers. No weekends, no evenings off — just work until the morning hours. All that started to make itself felt.
Looking around, she tried to convince herself, that she still felt good and energized by the importance of this story. The truth, however, was that she was almost about to say <Okay, let's get the Senator and his gang off the hook. I don't care anymore. My pillow is screaming and I want to give in to that.>
As she looked to the elevator the doors opened and her partner, Clark Kent, stepped out. With two big cups of mocha in his hands, he walked down the ramp and headed towards her desk.
"Tired?" he asked with a sympathetic grin.
She nodded. "Thanks for the mocha. The caffeine will rise my spirits — hopefully." Lois took the mug thankfully. She gulped the hot liquid. "Whoa! That's a real wake-me-up."
"Extra stong," Clark smirked, "you won't be able to sleep until Tuesday."
"Hey, if this scoop keeps on keeping us so busy, I wouldn't have had a chance to sleep anyway."
"Oh, gosh, you're *so* right." Clark sighed. "I hardly know what my bed looks like anymore, but I'm well informed about the guy at the Chinese take-out."
"Oh, Chen. Has he told you then that his cousin — Suen-Hoa — is going to be married?" Lois joked.
"Told me? He even asked me to be the best man." Clark tried to keep a serious expression.
"What a coincidence! I'm going to be the maid of honor," she giggled.
"Maid of *honor*? Well, I guess you should behave less silly then and remain more … composed. An honorable woman." His smile widened.
"Oh, really? Maybe *you* should prove then, that you are the *best* man for real." Lois slapped him playfully.
Suddenly he took her by the shoulders and pulled her up close to him.
"Maybe," he looked at her intensely, "I should."
They both stopped laughing and gazed into each other's eyes. His hands on her shoulders, her hands — that she had used to steady herself — still resting on his hips, they stood there, neither one of them willing to move.
Just then Perry White's voice broke the spell. He called them to come over to his office. All of a sudden Lois and Clark were uncomfortably aware of how close they were. They broke the gaze and pulled apart. Both of them hurried to Perry's office.
"I have to tell you something." Perry said in a surprisingly gentle tone. "I know that you are working on this scoop about Senator McLarren being involved with Intergang for a week now and …"
Lois interrupted. "Ten days, Perry. Ten days," she said with a sigh, " — but I have to disappoint you, we don't have photos yet."
Perry shook his head. "I know, you would have told me by now. And that leads me to what I have to say: You put a lot of work in this and I appreciate that, but you know my motto — hard facts. And you don't have that, do you?"
Lois spoke up again. "No, Chief, we don't have photos, tapes or someone who is willing to witness in court. But three reliable sources told us that there are slush fund payments going on."
"I'm sorry, Lois. But I need you for other stories as well. And with that trial that killed the 'Gotham Chronicle', I'm not willing to take a chance. The election is coming soon and they would sue the devil out of us."
He had a point there. The authorities would surely bring action against them if the story wasn't backed up 100 percent. Still, Lois didn't want to give up that easily. "But Perry, a few more days and I'm sure we …"
He cut her off. "No, Lois. You will both take the rest of the day off and recover from working so long. It's just one o'clock so you have plenty of time left. I want you back tomorrow for working on other stories."
Lois and Clark started again. "But Chief …"
"I made my decision. Comprende? Leave the Planet now; just go home and relax. I don't want to see you until tomorrow morning."
They both realized that it was hopeless so they slowly walked out of the office, heading towards their desks to pick up some things before going home.
"Hey Kent, do you want me to give you a lift home?" Lois asked while shoving her stuff into a bag.
"That would be great." He grabbed his coat. "Ready?"
They walked over to the elevator.
Inside the elevator Lois started. "Clark, about what just happened …"
"Yes, I know. We worked so hard and what do we get? It's a shame." He shook his head unwillingly. "But to be honest, the idea of taking a long hot shower, eating some *real* food and watching some TV before going to bed at a decent time *does* make me feel better. Don't kill me for that, please." He threw his hands up as if to cover his face from being slapped by her.
"I never would. Actually, I perfectly know what you mean. I will soak in the tub for hours first thing when I come home. But that's not what I was referring to. I was talking about what happened after you brought that mocha." The doors opened and they walked out.
"Hey Lois, don't worry. We were both so exhausted," Clark said understandingly, "being without any leisure time for so long makes you do funny things. Let's just forget about it. I mean, it was nothing, wasn't it?"
They arrived at her silver Jeep Cherokee. While she fumbled with the keys, she answered. "Well, no. You're right." Finally she managed to open the door. She took her place behind the stirring wheel, buckled up and started the engine. "But despite what I just said, Clark, I'm still angry about Senator McLarren getting off scot-free. It's just *not**fair*." She clenched her teeth.
"You're absolutely right," he agreed, "but at the moment, it doesn't seem like we can do anything about it. We'll get him later," Clark assured her. He reached into his pocket and took out his beeper. "Let's see …"
"Oh, Clark, you're right I *am* exhausted. I didn't even notice that your beeper made a sound. Maybe it would be safer if you drove," Lois suggested.
"It didn't beep, Lois," Clark said.
"But how did you know then?" Lois asked. "Are you psychic or something?"
"Of course not," he smiled reluctantly, seemingly uncomfortable, "it, uh, vibrates."
"Wait, Kent. Do you want to tell me that you have something moving in your trousers all the time?" she grinned.
"You bet, Lois."
"Get the message," she ordered, "and you were right, indeed. We *are* exhausted and we *do* need to get some sleep. We act way too silly for people our age."
"Whatever you say. By the way, it's Perry. I wonder what he might want. He practically threw us out of the newsroom just about ten minutes ago." He took her car phone and punched in Perry's office number. "Hey, Perry, what's up? I thought we should just go home and relax."
Clark talked to Perry while Lois concentrated on driving. When he hung up, Clark filled her in on what they had talked about. "Well, I have good and bad news for you. First, the bad stuff — forget about your evening off. We have an assignment tonight. The good news is that we will be staking out Senator McLarren. Perry just received a phone call from one of his government connections, saying that tonight, McLarren and some Intergang member will have a meeting. Chances are we'll get all the evidence we need." He beamed in anticipation.
"Hey, that's great. When is it going to happen and are all the arrangements made or do we have to take care of that? Probably we should directly drive back to the office and ask Perry. Or do you think we should just call him again? That means another night with take-out food, huh? Oh God, I'm babbling, aren't I?" she asked.
"No, Lois. You're just talking a blue streak, but it's okay. I'm excited, too," Clark admitted.
They drove back to the Planet to discuss the details with Perry.
"Why do the bad guys alway have to meet in some cold, deserted place near the docks? It's so clichéd. Why can't they meet opposite the Ritz? We could feel warm. We could have room service. And it would all be paid by our expense account." Lois rubbed her arms in order to get warm while walking around the room.
Clark stood at the window, watching the house across the street through the blind. Because of Lois, he had to use some binoculars. Not that there was anything interesting. Neither the Senator nor the Intergang member had shown up yet.
"Lois, see the positive side of it. We have a shabby, dusty and dark room with no furniture except an old mattress in the corner over there. We are both overworked and tired and we have a whole night with cold remains of Chinese take-out ahead of us. Feel better?"
"You have a gun? I want to shoot myself," she cracked.
He took another quick look at the room. He had not exaggerated. Even their spying equipment was placed on the floor since there was no table or chair to put it on to. Fortunately, he had brought some blankets. "Hey Lois, I'll put a comforter over the mattress, so you can lay down there. And I have another quilt here for you to wrap up in. You look really cold."
"Would you please pull the mattress closer to the window? In this corner, I wouldn't even be able to talk to you." She glanced at him shyly.
"Sure." He prepared everything and gave her the quilt.
She wrapped it around herself and sighed. "That's much better. Do we have any hot coffee left?"
He took the thermos and gave it to her.
"Thanks." She poured some coffee into a mug he had passed along with the thermos. "That's all what's left. Here, Clark, I want you to have it."
He smiled. "No, drink it yourself. I'm not thirsty at all."
"But Clark, I've already gotten the mattress. I would feel bad. You should drink it," she insisted.
He walked over, sat down beside her and took a little sip.
"Aren't you going to drink more than that?" she inquired.
"No, Lois. Like I said, I'm just not thirsty. Drink it before it gets cold." He layed his hand on her back and brought the mug to her lips.
After drinking she said, "Kent, why don't you get cold? Without these blankets I would be freezing, but you …"
He grinned. "Being raised up in Kansas helps probably. I got used to the cold. And I wear wool — that's warm, too." With that he stood up and walked back to the window.
Only minutes later the Senator arrived in a little Mini Cooper. He went inside the house, waiting there. By the time he had gotten inside another car showed up. A woman got out of it and hurried to the room where McLarren was already waiting.
Clark switched on the tape recorder, readjusted the video camera and flipped it on as well. "Yes, Lois," he exitedly exclaimed, "we've got it! The woman — it's Theresa Shea."
She stood up and quickly moved behind him. "Really? That's great! She's known to be involved with Intergang!" Her eyes glowed. "These pictures and tapes will be the final evidence in this scandal. They won't dare to deny the Senator accepting bribes." Now she really felt energized, realizing that all the work had paid off in the end. "Can you believe it? We didn't work in vain for so long. This scoop will be *the* front page headline." She wrapped her arms around him from behind, squeezing him happily.
He turned around and looked her in the eyes. Smiling broadly over the success, *their* success, he hugged her back.
They lingered that way, her head on his chest, holding each other tightly.
Finally Clark broke off the embrace. "Let's listen to what they say. There still might be some surprising angles to this story."
They sat down on the mattress and listened carefully to what the people in the house across the street talked about. Fortunately Senator McLarren and Ms. Shea discussed their deal in great detail, which not only gave Lois and Clark new insights, but also provided them with a lot of quotes for their article. Suddenly the speaker went quiet.
"Clark, what is it, something wrong with the tape recorder?" Lois asked.
Clark checked on it. "Nope. It still works, but it seems like it's not receiving signals from the bugs anymore."
"Why?" Lois inquired.
He shrugged. "I don't know. Seems like those little devices just broke down for some reason."
She swore. "Damn it. Now we'll never know what else they're saying."
"Hey, Lois," Clark said, "I have an idea. I'm pretty good at reading lips, you know. Maybe I should try to find out what they say so you could write it down in your notebook."
"Reading lips? How do you always manage to amaze me, Kent?" She looked at him. "But you're right. That idea's not bad. Go to the window and start, uh, reading," she commanded.
He grinned. "Aye, aye."
Clark walked over and pretended to watch through the blind with the binoculars while really overhearing what McLarren an Shea were saying. He repeated their every word while Lois scribbled frantically, determined to write everything down.
At first, they talked about further plans after the election, but then the subject started to change. The conversation became more intimate.
In the beginning, Clark just repeated what they — Theresa was mainly speaking — said, in a matter-of-fact tone, but as they went on he couldn't help his voice changing slightly.
<What, Leonard, when we would have kissed? I should have tried. I loved you then, you know.>
<But why, why didn't you show? I always thought you didn't care for me more as for any other of your colleagues.>
<I was scared then; but what if I would kiss you now, if I placed my mouth softly on yours. Caressing you with my lips. If I slid my arm around your neck, pulling you closer to me? If our tongues met? I can almost feel it inside of me, Leonard.>" Clark's voice had become more husky as he spoke and now it trailed off.
"Don't stop, Clark," Lois said, who had stopped scribbling since the conversation had gone that way. She just sat there now, eyes closed.
<I want to touch you,> Clark continued. <I want to hold you, but I know it's too late.>
"No," Lois said aloud, opening her eyes.
Clark looked at her with a questioning expression.
She glanced at him sheepishly. "I, uh, got a bit wrapped up in their story, I guess. Would you please …" Lois nodded to the house opposite the street.
He went on. <When we started we were so idealistic, weren't we? "That was Shea." We were, Terry, we were. But… "He's standing up now, Lois." It's been a long time since then, and we both lead pretty good and prosperous lives now, don't we?>
<That's true.> "That was her."
<And mine will be even better when I settle down in Switzerland in a few years.> "He's walking over to the door. They're exchanging goodbyes. I can't see them anymore; they're on the stairs now."
Lois looked at Clark with a bittersweet expression on her face. "Clark, you, uh, that was pretty sad, wasn't it?"
Clark watched her. "You mean Switzerland? And I always thought you loved their chocolate."
"No, lunkhead." She shook her head. "I mean, really. They both majored in law, they started out in the same office. They really wanted to help people. And now …"
"They decided to help themselves. That's a beginning." Clark cracked.
She stared at him angrily. "Very funny, Kent. Do you read my lines? Normally I'm supposed to say things like that."
"You're probably right. See, we're just overworked. Let's get back to the Planet as soon as possible and write this article. We can still get it done for the evening edition." He was already gathering up their stuff.
They agreed on that and drove to the newsroom.
Hours later they were so caught up in putting the finishing touches on their story that they didn't see the day dawn over the Metropolis skyline. The artificial light burnt in their eyes and the stack of donuts they had bought along the way was all eaten but they were determined to get it done in time. Clark and Lois finally agreed that there were no more improvements to make and LAN'ed the story to Perry.
When Lois had pressed the transmission button it almost seemed like this was the command for life to flow out of both of their bodies. They fell back in their chairs, heads falling to the side and eyes closing.
"We did it," she stated, not even trying to stiffle a big yawn.
"I almost can't believe it, but you're right. It's done," he said, stretching in his chair.
Lois straightend and took a sip from her now cold coffee. "We should go home and catch up on our sleep, shouldn't we?"
"Uh huh," he yawned, trying to bring himself to opening his eyes again and getting up. When they finally both managed to stand up and take their coats, they walked to the elevator.
"Want to share a cab, Kent?" she asked. "I think in my condition I would risk my life driving myself; and you don't look too good either."
He nodded, barely keeping his lids open.
Outside the Daily Planet building, they hailed a cab and immediately fell into the back seats. As they drove homewards, Lois snuggled up to Clark and fell fast asleep.
He forced himself to stay awake with the last ounces of willpower he had left.
As the cab stopped on Carter Avenue Clark told the driver to wait while he took Lois to her appartment. He gently shook her, whispering "Lois, wake up, we're home. In two minutes you can sleep in your own bed."
She opened her eyes only a little bit and stumbled out of the cab. Her movements were more like those of a sleepwalker and Clark had to hold her around the shoulder for support. It took him pretty long to get her safely to her door since she was no help at all, almost falling asleep in his arms again.
As he took her keys and opened the door, she suddenly slid her arms around him and squeezed him tightly. Then she started to kiss him pretty passionately for someone as sleepy as she had appeared to be. He reluctantly responded, but then broke the embrace. She looked like a kid who had been taken its candy away from.
"But, Clark," she said in a sulky tone of voice.
He didn't reply and just escorted her to the bedroom while repeating his "We are both just overworked" line.
After he had waited in the living room until she put on her pajamas he tucked her up in bed and softly said "Good night, Lois, and sweet dreams."
Lois, already asleep again, didn't respond. She just shifted a little and hugged her teddy a bit closer.
The next morning Lois came to the office around eight-thirty. After grabbing a cup of coffee on her way, she passed Clark's desk. He already sat there, seemingly working on some file.
"Good morning," she said tentatively, concentrating more on his fingers than on his face.
"Good morning, Lois." He looked up at her and smiled. "Isn't that great, our headline's the talk of the town. The authorities already announced they're going to take action. I mean, I didn't even know these guys worked that early."
"Yeah, that's great." Her voice didn't sound as excited as it should have.
"Hey, Lois, what's wrong?" Clark asked, sensing her mood.
"I … nothing. I mean, about yesterday …" she started, feeling that she really needed to talk about the kiss.
"Oh, Lois, please don't be mad at me," he cut her off. "I just didn't think about that this story was a *morning* front page. The whole thing was so exciting, I really wanted to write this piece. And you didn't notice, either."
"I'm sorry, Clark? What are you talking about?" she was taken completely by surprise.
"I'm talking about yesterday. We spend our night here, making the story ready for the evening edition, although it definitely *is* a morning headline, remember? But see the positive side of it — you had the whole day yesterday without having to come back by midday to write the article." He looked at her again.
"Clark, I wasn't thinking about the article, I was thinking about …" she lowered her voice, "… me kissing you. I wanted to talk about it."
"We don't have to, really. I mean, the excitement about the story mixed with the exhaustion …" he explained, making a gesture with his hands that meant. "Don't worry about it, it doesn't matter."
She shot him a furious glare. "Clark, what is that? Some kind of mantra you have to repeat at least ten times a day? It was not the exhaustion, it was not the excitement and it was not the not having slept for so long. I'm fed up with you stopping me when I try to talk to you about the things that happened … that happened between *us*." She looked at him challengingly.
"Well, I guess we should go somewhere else then. I don't want to have this conversation in the newsroom." Clark stood up and started for the ramp.
Lois followed and led him to the copy room when he headed for the elevator.
"Lois, why don't we go to a deli and have some nice breakfast while we talk? This surely is not the best place to have this talk," Clark said, heading for the elevator again. "You stay right here." She stood in front of the door, blocking his escape route. "On the way to the deli there would surely be something happening again. Perry would give us another story, we would meet someone we'd have to talk to, or you'd make one of your 'Cheese of the Month Club' excuses again. I won't risk anything this time. We will stay right here and talk. And not about exhaustion." She looked at him with a determined expression.
"So, Lois, what is it?" Clark folded his arms over his chest, awaiting her answer.
"I, well." She took a deep breath. "Yesterday I had time to think about what happend two days ago. What I felt after the mocha, the embrace while staking out Senator McLarren, the emotions you aroused by repeating the words of the converstion they had." She paused briefly. "I started thinking about us while listening to you, and when you said >>It's too late.<< I felt so awful for a moment. I though that meant it was too late for *us*. I don't want it to be too late for us." She shook her head to emphazise that statement.
"But Lois, why should it be too late for us?" Clark asked, not completely getting what was going on here.
"Because I hurt you. I claim to be your best friend, but I lied to you. When my feelings started to change, I didn't tell. I tried to hide behind this," she swallowed, "this childish Superman thing. Even when I realized deep down inside that it — that *he* — wasn't what I wanted anymore. Never was." She stopped. This was really hard and he wasn't helping her by just standing there with an unreadable expression.
Lois pulled herself together again. "Okay, so you don't want to help me with this. That's fine. But I feel I need to get it out of my system. All I ask for is that you listen to me, even if you don't care about that kind of relationship anymore."
He opened his mouth but Lois cut him off. "Please, Clark, hear me out; if you stop me now, I will always wonder."
Clark nodded in agreement and Lois began, "You know, when we started to work together, how unfair I was, how I treated you wrongly. But you always stayed patient; okay, you teased, but you never crossed certain lines, unlike me." She lifted her hand to tell him not to try to protect her from her self-criticism. "And finally we grew closer; we became friends, best friends. You warned me against Lex, and you stayed with me after that fiasco. You even listened to my Superman blah blah. I didn't thank you for that, but it meant a great deal to me. *You* meant a great deal to me. I felt how my emotions changed. I…" Lois blushed slightly. "I started having dreams about you. Of the sensual kind. I never had that about Superman. Believe it or not, but I've spent a lot more time thinking about you than about him for quite a while." She smiled self-consciously.
"Lois, you don't …" Clark reached out for her arm.
"Yes, I have to tell you all that. But don't worry, I'll be finished soon." She held up both hands in front of her to prevent him from touching her. She had to do this, but she felt she couldn't stand him being any nearer.
"My feelings for you are so strong, Clark. Stronger than they ever were for anybody — Superman included. In fact, the more I discovered my emotions for you, the more I had to realize that what I felt for Superman wasn't real. All I found so endearing about you — I saw that there was no equivalent for that about him. Don't get me wrong, what he does is great and he surely is a nice guy and a good friend — but comparing you two, one sees that you have more facets, your personality has a wider range. Even though you're a caring person, you can be mean some times." Lois grinned a bit, thinking about the Godzilla incident. "Well, anyway. I hid from all this in that Superman infatuation. In certain ways, he's not a real, everyday live person, so he wouldn't — he couldn't — hurt me. He's the big protector, the epitome of the good." She smiled, a bit sourly. "That sounds like 'Psychology 102 — Ms. Willowby', I know. But I'm afraid I can't help it."
Her face took on a somewhat anxious expression. "I want you to know that I didn't stop loving Superman because I realized I couldn't have him. I don't know if I could if I tried harder, and frankly, don't want to find out anymore. Thinking about the few intimate moments we had — even if it mostly was for some job related reason — makes me shudder. That's why I kissed you in front of my door. In the cab, I had a dream about us again; and I was so sleepy, there just were no barriers to keep me from doing what I wanted to for so long." Lois sighed. "But you broke the embrace. I understand, I had my chance — you gave me so many chances, in fact, but I always sent you away. I'm sad about it — but I feel better now that I told you. And, by the way, you can tell Superman about this — I meant every word I said."
She stood there, trying to be a proud woman and looking him in the eyes. What she saw there surprised her. She had tried so hard to convince herself that she could handle him saying he wanted to remain just friends that she almost couldn't believe what his eyes told her.
"Oh, Lois …" he finally managed to utter.
"Yes, Clark?" She anxiously awaited his answer. Could it be that she had misread his expression?
At last he took her in his arms. Their faces were only about four inches apart.
"Words fail me…" Clark smiled at her apologetically, but the love in his eyes encouraged Lois.
"Then *I'll* have to read lips this time." She slightly tilted her head and slowly brought her lips to his. They engaged in a sweet kiss. When it ended, they stayed close and gazed at each other.
"Lois, you've made me so happy with this," he whispered.
"No, Clark, I'm so relieved that you still want to be with me. I am glad, andI'm such a lucky woman to have you." She laid the side of her face on his cheek.
He lifted his hand and gently stroke her other cheek. "I've loved you for so long — and now there's so much we can share." Clark moved his head and their mouths met again. This kiss was more passionate and held promises for both of them. Their tongues played, danced, telling of the couple's emotions.
They didn't stop kissing when Jimmy opened the door, nor did they seem to care when quite a few staff members crowded in front of the copy room, whistling and cheering.
When they finally came up for air again Lois asked huskily, "Clark, do we have an audience?"
He reached behind her, closed the door and locked it. "No," he shook his head slightly, "I don't think so." His voice was soft and he smiled a little, looking deep into her eyes before their lips met again.