Escape from the Prankster

By Wendy Richards <w.m.Richards@hrm.keele.ac.uk>

Rated PG-13

Submitted September 1999

Summary: When Lois goes to Clark's apartment during the episode "The Prankster," they share an emotional, romantic moment. But is Lois prepared for what she learns after their steamy encounter?

This story began its life as part of the 30-minute challenge on Zoomway's message boards, but after some really nice feedback from the regulars there, I expanded it into a slightly longer story. The original is nfic and is available on Zoom's nfic boards and on my pages over at Annesplace (http://move.to/nfic). Thanks to the regulars on the boards for their encouragement, and to KathyB for her careful editing!

***

"Lois, I would not let that happen." Clark's voice was low, passionate in its sincerity. Strangely, she felt reassured; more so even than she had been earlier when Superman had assured her that he would be looking out for her. But why should this be so? Considering the matter, she realised that she couldn't work it out. After all, this was *Clark Kent,* her partner and admittedly best friend, but also the man who could barely open a peanut butter jar unaided, had the worst memory for everyday tasks of anyone Lois knew, and had an annoying habit of running away at the first sign of trouble.

Why should she feel so safe, so protected, with him?

It helped, she supposed, that he was tall; his shoulders were broad and, as she was quite well aware by now, Clark being an affectionate kind of guy, his chest was firm and solid. She guessed that he probably worked out, though she'd never heard him mention any gym sessions. He could probably hold his own if it required physical strength to protect her.

Not that Lois Lane wasn't well capable of protecting herself, she reminded herself vehemently. But that phone call from the Prankster - Kyle Griffin, she corrected herself - had just shaken her up. He seemed to be almost omnipotent in his abilities, and completely unpredictable.

So she had run to Clark's apartment, bearing pizza and beer, pretending that she had just felt like company; however, Clark, being Clark, had seen right through her bravado and insisted that she stay the night at his place. Of course, it was perfectly possible that Griffin could track her down at 344 Clinton; it would be a logical supposition that she might be there. But Clark's presence was comforting, which was a major improvement on her empty apartment.

As she relaxed on his sofa, helping herself to pizza as they settled down to watch the first Lethal Weapon video, Lois found her thoughts drifting to another occasion when her life had been in danger and Clark had also appointed himself her protector. She and Perry had laughed at him on that occasion, wondering just what he could do against a professional assassin; yet he had saved her life then. Three times, he had claimed, though she had never been convinced about that second occasion, when he'd claimed that someone had tried to shoot her. He had certainly saved her from death by strangulation when the assassin, disguised as her landlord, had caught her in her apartment.

Yes, she had been very glad of Clark's company, and of his strong, muscular body, after Dr Winninger had been murdered. And, knowing Clark, however much he did tend to disappear at the first sign of trouble when they were out on an investigation, she could depend on him to stay with her now.

She snuggled closer to him. He was murmuring something in that lovely velvety voice of his; she closed her eyes and just let the sound of his voice wash over her. He was saying something about changing his image, and about Jimmy having suggested that he should get an earring. For a moment she was tempted to laugh aloud: Clark with an earring? Then she considered that he was no doubt trying to distract her, saying these ridiculous things in order to take her mind off Kyle Griffin.

She laid her head on his shoulder, and felt him respond by wrapping his arm around her shoulders to draw her closer to him. She felt his head lightly touch the top of hers, and then… had he just dropped a kiss on her hair?

She raised her head abruptly to stare at him, and to her surprise she caught an expression of tenderness on his face which she had never seen before. He tried to cover up, rearranging his face into an ordinary, Clark-like, smile and beginning to ask if he could get her anything. But she reached up with her hand and touched his face delicately.

"I feel so safe here, with you, Clark," she murmured. "You know, I can't really understand it, except that I just seem to know that you and I, together, can cope with anything."

His arm around her shoulders tightened momentarily. "You know I won't let Griffin get anywhere near you, Lois. He'll have to get through me first."

She smiled up at him, and on a sudden impulse stretched up to kiss his jaw. "Thank you, Clark. You know, it's still really new for me to have someone like you I can depend on, and I kind of like it."

"Oh, I like it too, Lois." His voice was husky as he wrapped his other arm around her as well, hugging her close to him. "I'm glad you came to me tonight."

"So am I." Her voice was a whisper. "I was so scared, Clark - it seemed like he was everywhere, anything I touched in the apartment could have been booby-trapped. I could have been killed just switching on the coffee-maker!" She raised her eyes, large, dark pools reflecting the fear she had felt, to his face.

"I couldn't have borne it if that had happened," Clark whispered in return.

Her eyes widened. "What… what do you mean, Clark…?" What was he saying? That he would have been devastated if his best friend had been killed? Or… more?

His hand curved along her jaw, across her cheek and into her hair. "Lois, I… I love you. You mean everything to me. And I know that you don't love me, that you just see me as your best friend, and I'm happy to be that, believe me. I don't want to embarrass you, or demand anything you don't want to give…"

He *did* love her… but what about his retraction, the day Mr Stern had bought the Planet? Lois hesitated, then reached up to caress his face with as much tenderness as his caress had held. "Clark… I think maybe you'd better kiss me," she murmured.

His eyes widened this time, but he didn't hesitate. His head lowered, and his lips met hers.

Clark Kent really could kiss, Lois discovered to her dazed astonishment. Though she shouldn't really be surprised, she considered in that small part of her brain which still allowed her room for freedom of thought. They had shared a number of kisses over the past year for different reasons, some of them subterfuge, and each time she had been fleetingly taken aback by the tenderness and suppressed passion she had detected from this man. Now, the tenderness was still there, but the passion was emerging with a vengeance. Once they had taken their time to get accustomed to the fact that best friends were becoming more intimate, the tentativeness disappeared. Clark's tongue emerged and demanded entry to Lois's mouth; she permitted him his entry and demanded the same privilege of him.

She needed to get closer to him, she realised; sitting beside him and held next to him wasn't enough. Scrambling to her knees, she climbed onto his lap and straddled him, facing him, and allowed her hands to rest on his chest while his burrowed deep into her hair, raising her face to his to allow him greater freedom in exploring her mouth.

His T-shirt was in the way; her questing hands found the hem and started to drag it upwards. He broke contact with her mouth for the second or two it took to wrench the T-shirt off himself and throw it to the floor; as he claimed her lips again she began to run her hands over his bare, smooth chest, tracing his muscle definition and the firmness of his pectorals. She had been right, that part of her which was still capable of thought recognised; he had to work out regularly.

As she continued to explore him, she heard him give a guttural moan; she tore her mouth from his and gazed at him from her vantage-point which was now at eye level with him. His eyes, beneath his glasses, were dazed with passion and she could see the questions in his face. Smiling at him, she took his hands and placed them on her own T-shirt.

He never took his eyes from hers as he tugged at the garment, pulling it over her head. She wasn't wearing a bra; her breasts were small enough for it not to be necessary when she dressed casually. He glanced downwards as he dropped her T-shirt on the floor, and she heard his ragged intake of breath. A moment later, one large, warm hand cupped her left breast.

Lois could never have imagined feeling like this about her partner, she thought dazedly as tiny flames of need began licking in the pit of her stomach.

She *wanted* Clark! Wanted him to touch her, stroke her, kiss her all over… wanted him to make love to her. And it seemed that he wanted her too. She tugged at his head; as he raised it in response, she claimed his lips fiercely.

She had always suspected that Clark wasn't particularly experienced with women or sex; he had an endearing habit of blushing with embarrassment whenever the subject was mentioned, and he had certainly been uncomfortable around Cat when she had flirted with him. Yet this man who was her partner in this intensely pleasurable loveplay seemed perfectly assured, confident that what he was doing was satisfying her as much as it did him. He confirmed her assessment of his self-confidence when he lifted her off his lap and laid her flat on the sofa, coming down to lie, half-beside, half on top, of her.

"This is better, isn't it?" he murmured as he began to touch her with long, slow deliberate strokes; over her neck, shoulders, her waist, stomach, and then over the curve of her hips, still encased in jeans. She took advantage of his own closeness to do some exploration of her own, her urgent need to tease him overcoming her shyness as she allowed her hand to drift lightly over his thigh.

He caught her hand. "Lois - nothing has to happen unless you want it to, you know." His voice was husky, intense.

She smiled sensuously back at him. "I think I might want it, Clark… What was that?" she exclaimed as a loud noise sounded outside the apartment door.

But he was already on his feet, hurrying across the room and throwing on his T-shirt as he moved. "Stay there!" he shouted back at her.

She ignored him, grabbing her T-shirt and throwing it on as she ran after him. He had thrown open the door and was now standing in the doorway holding a box wrapped in brightly-coloured paper.

"What is it?" she demanded.

He swung around slowly. "My guess is this is from Griffin - Lois, let me just get rid of it, okay?" He fiddled with his glasses, a gesture she had seen any number of times; she'd always wondered whether it was nervousness or something else.

"Let me see." She came to stand beside him, leaning over to try to read the label.

"Be careful, Lois - " he began, only to stop dead as the box flew open. A bizarre figure shot upwards; too late, Lois realised that it held a large dart. As she watched in frozen horror, the dart shot from its hand and headed directly for Clark's throat.

"Clark! Nooooo…"

She screamed as the dart hit him, then stared when it bounced off him and fell to the floor. She gaped open-mouthed at her partner, who appeared to be completely unharmed, then before Clark could react she bent and seized the dart.

Its point was twisted and bent completely beyond repair.

She straightened and stared at Clark again in disbelief and wonderment. In silence, he closed the door and laid the box on the nearest surface, then turned to meet her gaze. He seemed to draw himself up to his full height, then watched her with an odd expression on his face. Proud, resigned… curious.

He seemed to be waiting for her to speak, but she simply couldn't find the words.

He smiled wryly, then in a swift gesture removed his glasses. "Make sense now?" he asked her quietly.

It did. Everything fell into place. Clark was Superman. No, that wasn't quite right, she thought, bewildered. Superman was Clark - yes, that was it. It had to be - after all, Clark had been Clark all his life. It was only in the last year or so that he had also been Superman.

He raised an eyebrow as she continued to say nothing. "Lois, are you okay? Because I mean, if you need to scream at me or hit me or something, I'd like to know because maybe I'd want to fly us somewhere you could do it where we won't be overheard…"

But she shook her head. Did she want to scream at him? Beat him up? (Hah, that was a good one! Beat up Superman? She'd be the one who got hurt!) No, she didn't. It was strange; after all, he had deceived her and convinced her that he was two separate people. But she supposed he had reasons, and he could tell her all about those. Later, though. Not now.

She stepped forward and placed her hand on his chest. "I think we have better things to do, Clark. Like what we were doing before we were interrupted…"

"Are you sure?" he asked, seeming very surprised.

"You chickening out?" she taunted him.

He laughed suddenly, a beautiful, deep laugh which sent shivers through her. "No chance, Lois." In an instant, he had scooped her into his arms and was floating them back to his couch.

As he laid her down again, he peeled off his T-shirt in one single easy movement and grinned down at her, allowing her a flash of brilliant white teeth. "Now where were we…?"

Loving the sensation of being so close to Lois, Clark just held her for several moments, burying his face in her hair, as his brain came to terms with what had just happened. He had told Lois that he loved her; she hadn't replied in kind, but she had certainly encouraged him to *make* love to her - pretty blatantly, in fact. He had told her he was Superman - not that he'd had much choice after what she'd seen, though he supposed he could have come up with some way of explaining it away. He hadn't wanted to, though; for some reason it just seemed *right* that she should know, now. And to his amazement and delight, she hadn't screamed at him, hadn't called him a liar or indicated in any other way that she was furious with him for having deceived her for so long. She seemed happy to accept that Superman was in reality Clark Kent.

And she didn't seem to have a problem accepting which was reality and which was the disguise either, he realised. She had continued to call him Clark once she'd realised. Not Superman.

Well, even if she didn't love him… yet… he would try to be anything and everything she wanted of him right now. If she wanted him to make love with her, then he would. He would try to be as loving and passionate as he could possibly manage - though it wouldn't be easy, he thought wryly, as his only knowledge in the area, apart from clumsy kisses and fondles as a college student, stemmed from books. But she seemed to have been happy with his efforts so far…

He returned his attentions to the warm, soft and beautifully responsive body lying so close to his. Her T-shirt was still in place, but he began to stroke his hand across her stomach as his lips found hers again. With feather-light strokes he began to push up her T-shirt, gently floating her a couple of inches off the couch so that he could pull it off her without disturbing her.

Suddenly she gave a cry of protest. "No, Clark! I'm… not sure I…"

Clark sat up instantly, releasing her, and stared at her. "Lois…? What is it? Did I do something wrong? Or - are you still worried about the Prankster? Because I can go after him, you know, and try to find him…?"

Lois sat up and stared at him blankly. "The Prankster… no, no, I don't need you to do that, Clark. To be honest, I'd rather you stayed here - I'd feel a lot safer that way."

He looped his arm about her shoulders again. "Of course I will, Lois, sweetheart. You know I won't leave you alone while this is going on - even if there's an emergency. The police will have to cope alone tonight."

To Clark's surprise, Lois seemed to react strangely to the 'sweetheart;' she exerted a small amount of force to remove herself from his embrace and turned to look at him, a strange expression on her face.

"Clark, I… I do want you to stay with me. But can we just… leave all this stuff - the kissing and things - for now?"

Taken aback, Clark stared at her. She didn't want to kiss him? But it was she who had started this in the first place: she had asked him to kiss her, and later had encouraged him to resume where they had left off. Why was she blowing hot and cold on him?

Confused, he stared at her. "Lois… what's wrong? Did I do something wrong…?" He ran his hand agitatedly through his hair. "I thought you wanted this…?"

She swallowed, adjusting her clothing as she stared mutely down at her feet. Feeling a little under-dressed, Clark rescued his T-shirt again and pulled it over his head, and he shifted to the far corner of the sofa and waited.

After a few moments, she turned to look at him, her expression a myriad of emotions. "Yes, Clark, I did want it… but I thought I was making love with Clark Kent."

Now she'd completely lost him. Clark shook his head in puzzlement. "Lois - you are. Or you were until a couple of minutes ago."

She shook her head in rejection of his statement. "No. I was - but just then I realised I was making love with Superman."

"And that's a problem?" Clark was barely able to believe his ears. He knew how Lois felt about Superman - she had made it clear with embarrassing frequency. She had an immense crush on his alter ego, which had at times made his life a misery. Why was she suddenly cavilling at the thought of being intimate with Superman?

Struck by a thought, he added sardonically, "I see. I guess you're no longer interested in being with Superman now you know he's only me."

Lois's reaction took him by surprise. She jumped to her feet and slapped him hard across the face before stalking across the room, her hand clasped under her armpit, as she yelled, "Is that how shallow you think I am? Owwww - if I'd ever done that to you before I'd have figured out who you were long ago!" she added, as her hand clearly started to throb.

Did he think Lois was shallow? Clark paused; there certainly had been times when he had believed that, but there were plenty of other times when she had proved that she was nothing of the kind. He had believed it when she had indicated that her willingness to marry Luthor was predicated on the question of whether Superman was willing to say that he loved her. But he had decided, long ago, that he was partially to blame for that situation anyway. He should have told her the truth about Luthor long before, and he shouldn't have made his precipitate declaration of love as Clark.

He got to his feet and followed Lois across the room. "No, I don't think you're shallow at all. I just don't understand what's going on here."

She spun slowly to face him. "No, you don't, do you? I thought I knew who you were, Clark. You were my best friend, and I really did care about you, and then you said you loved me, and you kissed me, and it was really wonderful, and for the first time in a long time I felt that maybe I could trust a man enough to be with him, and maybe love him… and then Whammo! I find that you're really two people in the one body."

Clark didn't fail to notice Lois's use of the past tense, and his heart sank. Had everything been destroyed after all? "Lois," he began hesitantly. "I'm still Clark - Superman is only a disguise so that I can help people without losing my private life."

"Yes, I can understand that," she retorted. "And you're surprised that I can, aren't you, Clark? But what *you* should understand is that I realised suddenly that you're not the Clark Kent I thought I knew. I thought you were an ordinary guy from Kansas, who wears loud ties and tells bad jokes. Now I realise you're an alien from outer space, who's probably never been ill in his life apart from Kryptonite, who can fly, who can type at super-speed which is probably why you never miss deadline even when you have to dash off to rescue someone - and you don't read lips, do you? Look," she added, "I'm not even annoyed - or hurt - that you convinced me you're two separate people. I can understand why you did that. There were good reasons for it. But now that I know you can't expect me to carry on treating you like Clark any more. You're not him. And we're both going to have to get used to that."

Clark stood as if turned to stone as he listened to Lois's words. He was barely able to take in everything she was saying, but certain phrases registered with him. 'You're not the Clark Kent I thought I knew… you can't expect me to go on treating you like Clark…'

Slowly, he said, "Lois, can you please explain to me what the problem is? I promise you, I'm still the same guy you knew before - yeah, I can do a few things you didn't know about, but I'm still Clark and I'm still in love with you."

She sighed, her shoulders slumping. "Clark, you just don't get it, do you? Let me try to explain. Before that… that thing with the dart, I was with my friend Clark. Afterwards… you lifted me up, floated with me - and I suddenly realised what it really meant. The fact that you're Superman, I mean."

"What - the fact that I can fly? But, Lois, you knew that!" Clark protested, still unable to make much sense of her words.

She threw him an impatient glare. "Okay, do I have to spell it out for you, Clark? Apart from the fact that you are *not* the person I thought you were, and it will take me a while to get used to that, I realised that your being Superman and us being about to make love was… pretty scary, actually."

Scary… she was *afraid* of him? Barely able to believe that he'd heard her correctly, Clark stared at her in appalled horror. "Lois… if you think I would ever hurt you…" Without intending to, he spoke angrily, and, too late, he saw her flinch. But it was incredible that she could think…

Did she really believe that because he was the Man of Steel he wasn't capable of controlling his powers, making sure that he wouldn't harm her in any way? Couldn't she remember all the times he had held her, both as Clark and as Superman, using just the right amount of pressure to make her feel secure and never once hurting her?

Evidently she did, he thought, turning away from her and striding out into the kitchen. He stared out of the window into the dark night, wishing that there was a way he could escape from this situation which had now become unbearable. If he hadn't promised Lois that he would stay and protect her, he would have changed into the Suit and taken off into the darkness, flying for hours until the painful memory of her rejection had receded.

But that wasn't an option, and he couldn't ignore her indefinitely. He inhaled deeply and then turned around.

She was sitting at his kitchen table, watching him warily.

He crossed to sit opposite her. Raking his hand through his hair again, he said heavily, "Lois, I would never hurt you. Physically, I mean. I hope I'll never hurt you in any other way… but believe me, I can control my powers. Just because I'm invulnerable… because I can bend steel in my bare hand, that doesn't mean I would harm you if… if we made love."

His words seemed to take her by surprise. "Clark… you thought I was afraid that you'd injure me?"

"Well, weren't you? Wasn't that what you said?" he asked her, his voice unsteady.

"I said it was scary… the thought of making love with Superman," she reminded him, then clapped her hand over her mouth. "You thought I meant… Oh, Clark, I'm so sorry. I knew you were angry - no, hurt - but I didn't understand why."

Clark, by now completely lost, leaned his elbows on the table and rested his chin on his hands. "What's scary about it, then?"

"The fact that… oh, that you're only Metropolis's most eligible bachelor, the man every woman in the country has a fantasy about - that *I* have had fantasies about for a year now! That you're the perfect man, the perfect hero… that you belong to the whole world. You could never just belong to me."

Shaking his head as he now understood what she was saying to him, Clark reached across the table and took her hand in his. "Lois, I'm not perfect. Far from it, and you know it, too. Only the other day you were cataloguing my imperfections for me, if you remember. And I don't 'belong' to the world. I help when I can - I'll always do that. But if you could put up with me disappearing from time to time, and leaving you in the lurch, I'd love to belong to you."

She was silent for a few moments, and Clark wondered what else he could say to convince her that he meant his words. But then she raised her gaze to his again and smiled unsteadily at him. "Clark, you told me you loved me earlier this evening… do you still mean that?"

Holding her gaze, staring deeply into her dark brown eyes, he replied quietly, "Lois, I have loved you since the day we met. But you made it clear you weren't interested - I tried to settle for friendship, but… well, I just can't stop loving you."

"That's good, Clark, because…" Lois began hesitantly, "…well, because I realised the day I was supposed to marry Lex that I love you." He stared at her, incredulous, as she continued. "I know there were all sorts of reasons why I shouldn't marry Lex, but the one that really convinced me was that when I was walking down the aisle towards him all I could think about was you." She glared at him suddenly, making him wonder what he'd done now. "I would have told you too, you lunkhead, but you said you hadn't meant it when you told me you loved me!"

<Oh, Lois…> He sighed, then gave her a wry smile. "I lied then, Lois. I had to - I couldn't be sure you'd be able to work with me, be friends with me, again after I'd told you my feelings. So I said I hadn't meant it."

She returned his smile with a lop-sided one of her own. "You know, Clark, we could have sorted this out a whole lot sooner if you hadn't distracted me as Superman. You let me fall in love with him - you *encouraged* me! And that stopped me from seeing Clark as more than a friend."

"Yes, I know," he felt forced to admit. "It was just hard, Lois - I loved you so much, and you barely noticed me, but when I was in the Suit you were really interested. It was more than I could do sometimes to keep my distance."

"But now I know the truth," she pointed out.

"Now you know the truth," Clark repeated softly. "Do you think you could cope with being the girlfriend of an alien from outer space?" he asked, deliberately self-deprecatingly. He had had to use that tone; if he'd spoken with the desperation he really felt, he was convinced he would scare her off. But he needed to know the answer…

"Clark," Lois replied in a soft, intense tone. "I've always known that Superman is an alien, and that never bothered me. I'm not afraid of *you*. All I said was that I need time to get to know you - the *real* you. The person your parents know - the man you are when you're alone or with them and you're not having to pretend to be human instead of Super-human."

Finally, he understood. Lois was coping with the knowledge of his secret identity with the intelligence and understanding he should have expected from her. She didn't expect that things would continue between them in the same way as they always had. She didn't assume that Clark Kent with super-powers was the same person as Clark Kent without. She understood that when he was with his parents he behaved differently; and she needed time to get to know the real person, not the fa┴ade he showed the world, either as Clark or Superman.

He smiled at her. "Lois, my love, take all the time you need. And in the meantime…" He got to his feet and grinned at her. "Don't think this is showing off, but…"

He sped around the kitchen, grabbing ingredients and pouring them into two mugs, then brought the mugs over to the table and stared at them. Lois, wondering what was going on, noticed a flash of red in his eyes just before the contents of the mugs started to bubble.

He pushed one mug over to her. "Hot chocolate, the way I make it for my folks."

She laughed in amazement. "Clark, that's… oh, wow, how am I going to get used to this?"

"You will," he assured her. "Now I think it's time you got some sleep. You take the bed - I'll sleep out here."

But she hadn't finished surprising him yet. "Clark… you don't need to do that. I'd like you to share the bed with me…?" She glanced questioningly at him. "Just to hold me - I'd like that. Unless you think you couldn't…?"

He smiled reassuringly at her, although his body was already beginning to react to the thought of sharing a bed with Lois. "Sure. I'd like that too. And I promise you that I can control my libido."

***

Waking up some hours later, Lois initially wondered where she was; then she heard the soft sound of breathing next to her and she remembered. She was in Clark's apartment, in his bed, and he was next to her. Still holding her too, she realised; his arm was looped about her waist.

It had been immensely comforting to be held by Clark, she remembered. There had been a little embarrassment at first; they had gone together into his bedroom, and he had hesitated awkwardly before rummaging in a drawer and handing her a large T-shirt, offering it as a substitute nightshirt, then offered her first use of the bathroom. When she'd emerged, he had been wearing sleep-shorts and nothing else, causing her to stare rather noticeably at the expanse of bare flesh and his muscular torso. She hadn't actually spent much time *looking* earlier when he'd dispensed with his T-shirt. He had muttered something apologetic and had hurried into the bathroom.

By the time he had emerged - and she suspected that, for a Super-powered individual, he had taken his time - she had already been under the covers. He had slipped in to join her, and they had lain a little awkwardly side by side for a few minutes, not talking apart from a few stilted exchanges about turning off the light.

Then he had taken the initiative, suggesting softly that she turn over onto her side. He had then slid over towards her and wrapped his arm lightly around her waist, pulling her towards him and fitting her body against his larger one. He had seemed to take care to keep his hips some distance from her, but otherwise he allowed his body to cradle hers.

Then his lips had brushed the back of her neck lightly, and he had murmured, "Sleep well, Lois."

Now it was… what time? Five am, according to his bedside clock. Too soon to get up. And yet she wasn't tired any longer. Shifting her position, she allowed herself to gave at Clark. He looked beautiful in sleep, his long, dark lashes curving above his cheekbones. His hair was ruffled, and his lips curved in a smile which suggested that his dreams were enjoyable.

The covers had shifted in the night, and most of his torso was laid bare to her gaze. He really did have stunning muscle definition; how on earth had he managed to hide that from her in the near year and a half they'd worked together? His broad chest narrowed to a trim waist and flat stomach, from where a dark line of hair arrowed down to…

<Oh God> She swallowed.

Unable to look away, she stared at him. Superman had once told her that he had all the parts of a man; well, he certainly hadn't lied. And his… parts… seemed pretty impressive.

Compelled by a force she was barely aware of, Lois stretched out her hand and ran her fingertips along the edge of his waistband. He seemed to quiver a little beneath her touch. She repeated the caress, with a little more pressure this time. He moaned softly, and she caught her breath.

She had been caressing his stomach for several minutes before she became aware that she was being watched. Glancing around, she saw the dark brown eyes gazing at her, the aroused but incredulous expression on his face.

"Clark…! I'm sorry, I didn't realise you were awake," she stammered, then realised that she had sounded as if she had been trying to take advantage of him in his sleep. But he sat up and reached out his hand towards her, taking her chin in his palm.

"Lois… you can touch me all you want," he murmured huskily. Bending his head towards hers, he kissed her lingeringly. The kiss brought back all her memories of the previous evening, their passion on the couch, her desire for him. She kissed him back hungrily.

She wanted him. There was an ache deep in the pit of her stomach only he could satisfy, and his kiss had only made her need him even more. With a decisive gesture she pulled his T-shirt over her head, throwing it aside, and turned back to him. She was naked now, and she saw his eyes light up, his passion for her clearly legible.

"Lois… tell me what you want," he whispered.

"I want you to make love to me," she replied softly, reaching for him to tug his mouth back down to hers.

"Are you sure?" He resisted her urging, his dark eyes gazing concernedly into hers.

"Yes, I'm sure," she assured him confidently.

Still he hesitated. "Lois… I want to love you, trust me. But… there's something you need to know first."

She trailed a lazy hand across his chest. "You mean besides the fact that you're Superman?"

He smiled wryly. "Besides that. Lois, I… I've never done this before."

Her eyes widened; she had suspected as much, but hadn't expected him to confirm her suspicions. "Clark - it looks to me as if your body knows what to do," she teased him gently.

She reached for him again and this time he didn't resist, kissing her with greater passion and at the same time exploring her body with his hands. Their lovemaking was intense, passionate and deeply loving, with murmured 'I love yous' punctuating their kisses; Lois felt immensely privileged to be the first lover of this man who was, somehow, innocent farmboy and powerful Super-hero all wrapped up in one person.

***

Clark awoke again at six-thirty, and wondered briefly at the weight on his chest before realising.

Lois was in his bed; she had slept with him the night before, and an hour earlier they had made love for the first time. And it had been every bit as beautiful as he had ever dared to imagine.

She had been eager, passionate, loving and caring. She had shown him how she liked to be touched and caressed, how she wanted to touch him. She had soothed away his fears that he might disappoint her, and had encouraged him. She had stroked his hair with her hand as he had come down from the heights afterwards, and had told him again that she loved him. And she had fallen asleep again on his chest afterwards.

How much things had changed in a short space of time. From his fears that he would never be able to tell Lois his secret, let her see who he really was; his belief that she would never love him and would never give up her crush on Superman. And now, she loved him, as *himself,* and wanted to get to know the real Clark Kent. She knew his secret, and had accepted it.

Best of all, just before she had fallen asleep again, she had murmured that she felt really safe in his arms and that she wished she could always fall asleep like that. He had stroked her hair for a few moments before replying.

"Lois… if you mean that… you know I sometimes have to go out at night and help people, but if you could put up with that, you could move in with me…?"

She had stretched and then reached up to kiss his jaw before replying. "You know, that sounds like a pretty good idea, Clark."

So… he yawned, and contemplated the day ahead. Task one: find Kyle Griffin and put him back in prison. Task two: pack up Lois's stuff and move it across to his apartment. He grinned. All in a day's work for a Super-hero.

THE END