By Martina Koerber <Martina.Koerber@t-online.de>
Submitted August 2000
Summary: It's three weeks until their wedding and Clark finds out that Lois has a secret of her own. A Charity Fanzine story.
A Charity Fanzine story, first released summer 1999
"Boy, it's good to be finally at home!" Lois exclaimed opening her apartment door. She took off her suit jacket and threw it over an armrest. "I don't think I've ever walked so much in my whole life! We must have crossed Metropolis at least twice!" Clark smiled and brought the bags of groceries into the kitchen to put them away.
"And these shoes are killing me!" Lois complained and kicked off her pumps without caring or paying attention to where they landed. She dropped on the sofa and rested her head on the back. "I don't know what possessed me to go shopping with you after such an awful day!" she sighed while she watched Clark zip around the kitchen.
"That's an easy one, honey—it's your stomach agreeing! It knows that the word 'supplies' isn't part of your vocabulary." he teased her.
Lois stuck her tongue out at Clark. He was laughing, walking over to her. On his way he stumbled over one of the shoes Lois had discarded. "OOPS, where did that come from?" Lois shrugged her shoulders. "Where's the other one?"
She pointed vaguely behind the couch.
Clark shook his head, went to look for it, and found it under the fish tank. He cleared away both shoes and took the opportunity to hang up their coats as well.
Lois groaned. "I'm beat. I'll never ever get up from this sofa again!"
Clark went back to the kitchen and returned with a cup of coffee for Lois. He stood behind the couch and gave it to her.
"Thanks!" She lifted her head and smiled up at him. He leaned forward and gave her a peck on her lips before placing his hands on her shoulders and gently beginning to massage her. Lois sighed blissfully and dropped her head for better access to her neck. But then she thought better of it. "Could you do that a little bit lower, please?" she begged.
"No, I can't, not as long as you're sitting like this."
"Okay!" With that she was laying on her stomach. Clark smiled. "Hey! And here I thought I was the fast one!" He floated over the back and sat down on the edge of the sofa. Before he was even seated Lois began to unbutton her blouse.
"What are you doing?" he asked, confused.
"I thought you wanted to give me a backrub? It's much easier this way." She saw him swallowing as he looked her over. She softly chuckled. She loved the way Clark made her feel wanted and loved just by touching or looking at her.
Hesitantly he continued with his massage. "Mmmmmh, has someone ever mentioned that you have magic hands?"
Clark didn't answer. Actually he hadn't even realized that she had been talking to him. The sight of her back under his hands had a quite … distracting effect on him, to say the least. He leaned forward to kiss her on the nape and let his lips follow the path of his hands when Lois turned around and looked at him questioningly. "Clark! Were you listening to me? I asked you if anyone ever told you you had magic hands?"
Like a caught schoolboy he straightened hastily and blushed. "Uhm, no, nobody ever has."
Lois raised a brow as if to admonish him for staring at her but couldn't suppress the merry smile that crossed her face. So she settled for kissing him on the cheek. "It's your turn."
"Turnabout is fair play."
Clark shrank back. The last thing he could stand right now was a massage from Lois. He wanted one — boy, did he want one and badly — but he didn't think he would be able to take it.
"Uhm, Lois, I don't know … "
"Come on, Clark", Lois interrupted him, pulling his shirt out of his pants. Clark was so surprised by her actions, he nearly fell off the sofa. "I won't bite and I won't hurt you!" she promised with a wry smile.
"Lois, I don't think this is such a good idea!"
"Well, I'm not going to force myself on you. But you don't know what you're missing!" Lois had trouble stifling her laughter. She loved to confuse Clark like this knowing full well that he wouldn't follow up on such a proposition.
After Clark's confession about being a virgin and Lois' regrets about her Past relationships they had decided to wait until their wedding before taking the final step. Although Lois was sure that Clark was the man she wanted to spend the rest of her life with, she had felt it would be the right thing to do. Clark of course had agreed because the last thing he'd want to do was to pressure her in any way. But as their engagement went on, their relationship became more and more tactile. Clark no longer felt the need to restrain himself when he wanted to touch or kiss her, even if they were in public and Lois had more and more difficulties with her resolve to wait.
Having Clark showing her over and over again with touches, glances, and words, how much he loved her, not only seemed to heighten her love but also her desire to finally be with him. But now it was Clark who wanted to wait, thinking she might regret it if they would become intimate before their wedding. So they had established some kind of game. She'd occasionally try to seduce him and he'd — of course — resist. Not that she tried really hard, but she succeeded to make him squirm more and more often. And sometimes when she came on to him, times like now, the shy farm boy from Kansas would shine through. She smiled to herself. 'Playtime!'
"But you've got to continue your massage then." she demanded and once again settled on her stomach into the cushions. Clark hesitated. If Lois kept this up it would be a long, long three weeks till the wedding.
She shot him a provocative look over the shoulder and giggled. "Why are you acting up? It's not like you've never given me a backrub before!"
Sighing, Clark surrendered. He began moving his fingers over the silky skin of Lois' back. It wasn't as if she had to hold him at arm's length but … "That's right, but usually you're wearing a little bit more."
"Oh, does that bother you? I thought you were immune to my 'girlish charms', at least until the wedding," she replied in an oh-so-innocent tone. "No, wait, there, a little lower and harder!" she moaned when he touched an especially tense spot.
"You know very well that I'm not immune to you and never will be, honey. But if you keep moaning like that, I'll have to resort to drastic measures!" To illustrate his point, he quickly tickled her sides, and then continued to massage her.
After a while, Lois turned around so quickly that Clark's hands came to rest on her waist. He looked at her questioningly. 'She just doesn't quit!' he thought, amused.
"This good deed has earned you a reward." she said softly and slowly began to slide her hands up his arms, caressing his skin. She slipped her hands around his neck and pulled him down to her. As he slowly lowered toward her, she took his glasses off and laid them on the coffee table. He leaned on his elbow and looked down at her as she lifted her head. Gently she began to kiss him, first on the eyes, then on the nose and finally on the mouth.
A little bit later he pulled back. "You're making it really difficult for me today, Lois! If I would have any presence of mind at all, I'd leave right now. But … When I am with you, my mind seems to take a break. Frightening, huh?"
"Oh, I wouldn't say that. Love just does that to you. And as long as I enjoy trying to seduce you and you enjoy resisting, I won't stop—even if I finally succeed and you quit resisting!"
Clark grinned at her. "No chance, Miss Lane! But keep on trying!"
"Your wish is my command." And Lois pulled him down to her once more.
It was quiet for a while, and then the sudden ring of the telephone intruded. As Lois said some choice words about interruptions, Clark lifted his weight off her and began to reach for the phone, to hand it to Lois. She shook her head and held him where he was. "I'm not home. Let the answering machine get it."
"Hi, Lois! This is Linda—Linda King, screenwriter, actress, award winning reporter, I know you remember *me*." Lois stopped nibbling on Clark's earlobe. "Are you out on a desperate chase after a story again? Well, let me tell you, Hollywood is really something. Just full of gorgeous men, dying to please me!"
Lois rolled her eyes.
"Clark would fit right in here." Lois gave Clark a pointed look. "I've heard that you've finally defined your personal relationship, is that true? Oh, and if you don't get that, ask Clark, I'm sure he remembers." Lois looked at him, questioning, but Clark only shook his head, smiling and continuing to listen.
"I can't imagine … someone actually wants to marry Lois Lane. Clark must have a masochistic bent, though I didn't get the impression he liked being bossed around when we met. But since you're going to marry him, I assume you've already told him your biggest secret, right? Lois? or should I call you—LJ? Maybe I should try to call Clark next. I'm sure you won't mind, you can't have any secrets from him now, not when you're going to be man and wife, right?" Linda's glee was evident, even over the phone.
She continued, and Clark felt Lois tensing in his arms. "Now, what was it I called for? Oh well, I forgot! When I remember I'll give you a call—now you really have something to look forward to. Bye for now, LJ."
Lois sat up angrily. "She … She … trust Linda King to spoil the mood!" She grabbed her blouse and covered herself.
Clark looked at her, puzzled. "Honey, what did I miss? Why are you so mad all of a sudden? I know you don't like her, and of course the things she said about us … and I can explain the definition thing to you. That was …" He didn't go on because Lois had none-too-gently pushed his weight off her, stood up and stormed into the kitchen.
"Of course not! I couldn't care less! Linda is just a nosy b… busybody!"
"Why, what else could it be then?" Clark got up and followed her. "Oh, you mean the thing about the secret? If that's about … what's his name, … Paul? You've already told me about him, don't you remember?"
Lois shook her head. "Who? Ha! It's not about him. It's her, and her big mouth!"
He stood behind her and put his arms around her waist to calm her. He quickly ran through the message in his mind. "So, what was that LJ stuff?"
Lois slipped out of his embrace and busily began to take out the supplies he had put away only minutes before. "How about cooking now? I'm starving!" she said, in an obvious attempt to change the subject. It was futile, though; Clark's curiosity was piqued. He wasn't an award-winning reporter for nothing, and he knew when to dig for a story.
"Does the J stand for a nickname or your middle name? You've never told me you have one. Is that your biggest secret?"
Lois softly began to curse. "If I get my hands on you, Linda! … It's not remotely interesting and totally unimportant. Can we just cook now?" she asked loudly over her shoulder.
Clark was grinning. He knew that he had hit the nail on the head if Lois was reacting like that. "Come on, Lois, give it to me! You know, married people shouldn't have secrets from one another!" he teased her.
"We aren't married yet!" Lois snapped. Seeing Clark's stunned expression, she apologized to him immediately. "Oh, I'm sorry, sweetheart, I didn't mean to snap at you. That was totally uncalled for. It was just a horrible day today and I'm not really myself!" and she put her hand on his cheek gently. She felt bad for lashing out at him but he still didn't let it go like she hoped he would.
"So tell me then, what's the name? Hey, my middle name starts with J too! You're not a Jerome, too, are you?" he quipped. Lois winced. "Honey, eventually I'll find out anyway. At the wedding at latest, so you can just tell me now." He tried to convince her. "It can't be that bad!"
"It is that bad and I still hate my parents for doing this to me and the minister has already promised not to mention it!" she explained, triumphant.
Clark was speechless. Lois took four pots out of the closet to make Clark finally start on dinner. Her stomach was really growling now.
Absentmindedly Clark put back two of them and filled the larger one with water for the pasta he intended to cook. He put it on the stove and turned around to face Lois again. "So you don't want to tell me your name. Is that right?" he asked her incredulously and began to cut the tomatoes for the sauce.
"Correct. I don't. Do you have it written in blood that I have to?" Lois answered watching him.
"And that from the woman who was mad at me because I didn't tell her that my name is Superman!" he said lightly.
"It is not just the *name* I was mad about and you know that! It's completely different, Clark, you can't even compare the two!" she exclaimed heatedly. She saw him laughing at her because he'd once again managed to get her worked up. Still mad, she went on, "And this is not funny."
"Excuse me, but …"
"No, I don't believe in double standards. And don't look so surprised, I knew exactly what you were going to say. We've known each other long enough now. And since you no longer hide things from me, I can read you like a book, mister! Could we please talk about something else now?" With these words she stood behind Clark and put her arms around his waist and her chin on his shoulder.
But Clark wouldn't let her distract him. He knew that Lois in babble mode Meant that something was bothering her and he wanted to help. So he decided to dig. He cut the parsley and the basil and stirred it into the tomatoes before he went on. "Why does Linda King know your second name, anyway, if it's such a big secret that you won't even tell the love of your life?" He winked at her.
Lois kissed his cheek and sighed. "Oh, you really want to hear the whole story, don't you, you pest? It was before the incident with Paul, when we were still best friends. We had this discussion about what makes the better reporter. Linda said the better reporter wouldn't be the one who had the better writing style, since that's a matter of personal taste and you can't measure it, but the one who was able to find out more facts and all the dark secrets people try to hide. But what good are facts if nobody wants to read about them because the writing is lousy?"
"And …?" Clark inquired when Lois took a break to pour them some wine. "Wait, add a dash of wine to the sauce, please… Stop! Don't you know how much a dash is?"
"No, I don't." Lois laughed. "Evidently less, huh? Well, that won't make that much of a difference, will it?"
Clark just shook his head, resigned. He knew better than to let Lois near Their food before it was ready or they wouldn't have to worry … because it would be inedible.
"Anyway, we had bet that she couldn't find out my biggest secret, but even then I didn't concede she's the better reporter. She cheated to win, that low-down snake, and I don't have anything else to say on the subject!" She started to set the table. "Isn't dinner ready yet?"
"Finished right this moment."
She carried their wineglasses to the table and lit some candles. Clark followed with their filled plates and put one down in front of her. "Enjoy your meal, sweetheart."
She smiled at him. "See, you have all the names you need for me, and I like them much better than anything else!"
"So, she managed to find out your name?" he asked curiously. Lois nodded, chewing on her food. "It can't be that difficult then. What she was able to find out shouldn't be too difficult for me, after all, *I'm* the ace reporter!" He glanced at her, grinning.
Lois only laughed at him. "In your dreams, Kent! I bet you won't succeed! Don't think it's that simple! I've covered my tracks well and I've even hidden my birth certificate!" she smirked at him. "You should know by now how good I am at keeping secrets!"
Clark looked at her tenderly and took her hand. "That you are, and I don't know what I'd do without you. But I still think that I am at least as good a reporter as Linda!"
"I agree, I'd even say she's way out of … *our* league." She caressed his hand and continued. "Nevertheless you wouldn't find out."
Clark grinned at the challenge. "Ok, so we'll bet too. I can do it. What stakes?"
Lois considered for a moment, then her eyes lit up. Clark looked at her suspiciously. 'Uh-oh, what has she come up with now?'
"When you lose you not only lose the bet but …" She didn't go on. Clark shrugged his shoulders. He had no idea what she was getting at. "Uhm, what I want to say is … we forget our agreement to wait until after the wedding." She reddened a little bit. In spite all her innuendos she still found it slightly difficult to talk about this specific subject with him.
"Lois! I thought, you agreed to wait!"
"I do, but at least with those stakes we'll both be happy; me winning and you losing, don't you think?"
"And what do you offer?" he asked hesitatingly.
"If you win, everything stays the same."
"Lois!" Clark complained. "That's not fair! If you win, you get something — okay, we both do — but if I win I get what I already have! What kind of rules are those!"
"The Lois Lane Rules of Play!" she laughed.
Clark thought about it. Hard. It was really, really tempting.
"Come on, Clark!" Lois coaxed. "Aren't you positive that you can do it? So you wouldn't be risking anything!"
"How much time would I have?"
"Let's see, do you know the fairy tale, Rumpelstiltskin? Today I bake, tomorrow brew, the next I'll have the young queen's child?"
"Oh", Clark interrupted her. "Now you even want our first-born?"
"No, silly! What I meant is, you have to find out by day after tomorrow. Same time, same place!"
"And here I thought you loved me for my mind and not for my body!" Clark sighed theatrically and put the back of his hand on his forehead. Lois got up from her chair and made herself comfortable on his lap.
"Honey, you should be glad that I love every part of you! So … What's it going to be? Aren't you the least bit competitive?"
Clark pushed a strand of hair back from her face. "No, I'm not. You're the one who plays to win, remember? I still think it's unfair that you don't … Oh, I've got it!"
Lois eyed him doubtfully. He looked like the cat that swallowed the canary. "No!"
"What? You haven't even heard my suggestion yet!" Clark innocently replied.
"I don't need to hear it at all. I can tell by your face that I won't like it! You look like you're congratulating yourself for whatever brilliant idea you've just come up with and I don't like this smug expression!"
"Let me quote you—'Aren't you the least bit competitive?' and 'Aren't you positive that you can do it?' So what are you afraid of? You have to at least hear me out."
"Okay, out with it!" She leaned back slightly and eyed him expectantly.
"Just a minute ago you've said 'today I bake, tomorrow brew …'"
"Yes, and …? Well, I don't want a child yet, if that's what you mean!"
Clark blushed. "That's not the important part, Lois!" She still didn't understand him. He went on. "If I can guess your middle name, you'll have to take cooking lessons!"
"Clark! I thought you didn't mind my not cooking!"
"I don't mind that you can't cook, just like you don't mind waiting until we're married. We're both fine with the status quo, but no matter who wins this, we'll both have a good time." He looked very pleased with himself after he'd come up with his little scheme. He watched Lois closely, waiting patiently for her decision. He knew her well enough to expect her to accept. She rarely shied from a challenge. "So …?"
"Okay, agreed. But, you have to promise that you don't super-cheat, and, that you don't ask Linda!"
Clark's indignance was clear on his face. "What do *you* think, lady! Scout's honor, I will win using only my world-known first-class abilities as a reporter." Lois giggled. "Hey, don't you diss my investigative skills, lady, or I'll give you what for!" Clark mock-threatened. Lois just laughed harder. "But you have to promise me that I can have as many tries as I want, and you have to answer truthfully."
"Of course I'll answer truthfully! I solemnly swear, on my two Kerth awards!" Lois lifted her hand and crossed her heart.
"Done! You're on!" Clark leaned down to capture the hand that was still resting on Lois' chest and kissed it.
"No, no, and no!"
Clark looked at Lois surprised as she got up from his lap. She brought their empty plates into the kitchen and started to clean them. "Excuse me?" He followed her with the glasses.
She turned around from the sink to face him. "I know you already had a couple names in mind, and no matter what they are, they're wrong!"
"Could I at least attempt to solve this puzzle?"
"Okay, give it a try!" She handed him the plates.
He dried them with his heat vision and put them away. "Julia, Jessica, Jacqueline, Jane …"
"Ha! Jane Lane! That really sounds hideous!" she interrupted him, squealing with laughter. "But none of them were right!"
"Now, Lois, gloating doesn't become you. I've got to rule out the most common names first. I haven't even really started my investigation of the Lois J. Lane case." He sneaked his arms around her.
She turned around, put her hands on his chest, and looked up at him. "You're not trying to seduce me and pry the information while I'm in the throes of passion, are you?" She trailed a finger along the buttons of his shirt.
"Seduction is more your area, isn't it, sweetie?" he whispered and touched his lips to hers. "And now I'd better go."
Lois linked her arms around his neck and pouted. "Do you really have to? Don't you want to guess some more? I was just starting to enjoy our conversation."
Clark laughed and untangled himself from her grasp. "Good night, June?"
"Nope! But I'm beginning to like this!" Lois giggled. They were holding hands walking to the door. "And don't you even think about writing down 2000 names super-fast, or high-speed reading of books about first names from all over the world!" She waggled a finger at him.
Clark put their still linked hands on his chest and looked at her innocently. "Super-fast? High-speed reading? Who, me? Must be a different person you're talking about!"
Lois gently pushed him out the door. "Will you just go, you goof, or you won't have a chance of getting out of here tonight at all; even Superman couldn't save you from me!" she threatened, grinning. She was so looking forward to the time when he wouldn't have to leave at the end of the evening.
After she'd gotten into bed, she had a sudden thought. She flipped the light back on and grabbed the telephone.
"Hello, Lucy? Yes, I know how late it … Yes, of COURSE it's important! Why else would I … Ok— Lucy! Will you please pipe down and listen to me for once!
Lucy, Clark is probably going to be calling you. I absolutely forbid you to talk to him for the next two days … No, we didn't have a fight … No, no argument either. It would just take too long to explain, and didn't you say you were tired? … Oh, like you're really concerned with having a good relationship with your brother-in… He's definitely going to try to get you to spill the beans, and he's really good at worming information out of people, he just uses his innocent farmboy charms. I can't let that happen! If you even talk to him, then, then … I'll make Perry your dinner partner at the wedding and he'll tell you Elvis stories for the whole time! … Blackmail? Of course it's blackmail! I'll explain everything to you later! You'll like it, I promise! Good night!"
She broke the connection and then dialed another number, laughing to herself when she imagined the look on Clark's face when he called Lucy, as she knew he would. She knew how that mind of his worked; it'd probably be the first thing he'd try. The phone rang until the answering machine picked up.
She listened to the announcement and put the phone down without leaving a message, a content smile on her face. She had hardly settled back when the telephone rang. "I swear if this is Lucy …" she muttered under her breath. "Hello?"
"I'm sorry, mister, but unfortunately you seem to have the wrong number!" she giggled and heard Clark do the same before she hung up the phone. She snuggled into the pillows and fell asleep.
The next morning when she entered the newsroom and looked around for Clark, he was nowhere to be seen. She went to her desk and found a muffin, her mug filled with coffee, and a slip of paper.
*Morning, honey! (Jade?)
I had a little Special errand. I hope it won't take long. How do you like the idea of spending time tonight at my place? We could have Chinese take-out and look through the confirmations for the wedding.
Lois took a sip from her mug, smiling. It was still warm. Clark couldn't have been away for too long. She started her computer and called up the story they were currently working on when she felt two hands rubbing in small circles on her shoulders. She looked up when Clark kissed her on the head.
"Good morning, Janine?"
"Good morning, Jerome!" she teased him.
Clark looked at her, dismayed, and glanced around to see if anyone had overheard her comment. "Lois! Do you have to do that? The only one to call me Jerome is my mother and only when I've done something really awful. The last time I was called Jerome was Christmas when we had the trouble with the space- rats. And before that it'd been years!"
"Thanks for reminding me! You still owe me a pair of shoes for that stunt you pulled!" She tugged lightly on his ear, knowing full well that it wouldn't hurt him at all. "And have you been a busy boy, coming up with a strategy to win your bet?"
"No, I didn't get to do anything!" he wailed.
"Oh, poor baby. Rough night, huh?"
"That's one way to put it! A passenger liner ran aground and that took hours. I got very little sleep tonight." Clark lamented. Lois stroked his cheek sympathetically.
"Lois, Clark, how's the story going?" a voice behind them bellowed. They turned around and saw Perry standing at Clark's desk.
"Um, that's what we're going over right now, chief!" Lois said hastily and looked over at Clark.
Perry lifted an eyebrow. Lois turned red but Clark rescued her. He took her hand and helped her up from the chair. "In fact, we were just headed for city hall, to cover the press conference the mayor is holding about these latest accusations about corruption."
Lois grabbed a pad and her purse and waved at Perry on their way out. In the elevator she breathed a sigh of relief and leaned against Clark. "Wow, quick thinking, Clark, I thought he overheard us, and with the mood he's in …"
After the press conference they decided to have some lunch. But before they could even agree on the 'what', Clark's superhearing kicked in. He looked at Lois apologetically and shrugged his shoulders. They stepped to a quiet side street where Clark changed into Superman with a quick whirl. Before flying off, he told Lois, "It sounds like a pretty big fire. This may take a while."
She nodded and kissed him. "Be careful!"
"Aren't I always?" She took a deep breath to answer him. "No, wait, don't say anything!" he beat her to it and disappeared skywards.
"Coward!" Lois muttered under her breath under her breath with a sigh, and started back to the Planet. Her appetite was gone, she didn't really want to have lunch alone. When she got there, she saw the news report, and Clark really was dealing with a big fire.
"Lois, where in Elvis' name is Clark gotten off to this time?" Perry yelled across the room. She turned around to face him. "Clark is already on it, chief. We heard about the fire on the way to lunch." Perry smiled contentedly to himself. That was what made them his best team: they knew exactly when to be where!
Lois finished the story about the totally meaningless — but that was nothing new — mayor's press conference and stretched after she had sent it to Perry. She looked at her watch. Though it was getting late, Clark still hadn't returned. She decided to call it a day, and left a message on his desk.
I'm on my way to your place. See you there when you're done writing up the fire. And by the way, Perry was very pleased with your *initiative*, going there on your own. Hurry! I'll get the take-out.
PS: No, it's not Jean or Jeanne!*
'Might as well help him a little bit!' she thought. 'He'll never find it out anyway!' She placed the note where he'd be sure to see it when he sat down. It'd let him in on how she'd excused his long absence to Perry.
She had hardly left the Planet when Clark entered the newsroom. He noted Lois' abandoned desk with regret. Another day he had to spend away from her.
He found her message taped to his computer screen. Sheesh, he still had a story to write before he could go home! He smiled when he saw the p.s. and looked around the room. The newsroom was fairly deserted, most of the staff had already left. He began to type at superspeed, but stopped when an idea hit him.
He went to Perry's office and looked around before entering. Perry was nowhere to be seen. Clark went inside and got out Lois' personal file. He'd only promised not to super-cheat, he hadn't said anything about normal cheating. He did have a bet to win after all!
Bingo, Lois' files! He opened them quickly and looked for her personal data. No luck! Lois had actually withheld her middle name. He couldn't believe it. The files were supposed to be complete. Shaking his head, he went back to his desk. He still thought it was a really good idea.
He finished the story and got ready to leave work when he thought of the obvious solution. He dialled a number but only got the answering machine. He was more lucky with the next number. "Hello, Lucy! It's Clark!" He couldn't say anything else, as he was interrupted by Lois' sister's babbling.
He only got two, maybe three sentences out before he had to put down the phone, laughing hard. Evidently he had underestimated his wife-to-be, though he was surprised that that could still happen. He knew her too well to think that she wouldn't hide her tracks very well, but this was one of the rare times he'd forgotten. He didn't often underestimate her, but it did still happen from time to time. And every time she proved that he was wrong. She was simply incredible. He wrapped everything up and decided to fly home.
A moment later he landed on his balcony. Through the window he saw Lois. She had made herself comfortable on the couch, with her feet tucked under her. In front of her sat a stack of letters she was slowly skimming through. Feeling a draft, she looked up from the invitations when he floated through the window. "Hello", whoosh! A turn and he stood in front of her, clad in jeans and a t-shirt.
"Hi, sweetheart! Did you get my message?" Clark nodded. She gestured toward the boxes of takeout when he dropped on the sofa. " You hungry? It might have gotten a little cold."
Clark only shook his head and closed his eyes. "I've got to relax for a second first. I'm too exhausted to even produce a lukewarm heat-ray."
He felt Lois' smile when she kissed him on the cheek before getting up to reheat his dinner the old-fashioned way — in the microwave. After a couple of minutes she returned and saw that he still had his eyes closed. She leaned down and pecked his eyelids. He was rarely wearing his glasses in her presence when they were at home and that was nice during moments like these. "Wake up, sleepy-head! You've got to eat something, you already missed lunch!"
Clark opened his eyes. "I wasn't sleeping, just … resting my eyes … *mom*!" Though he didn't *have* to, Clark started to eat since Lois had gone to the trouble of warming up the food and he enjoyed the meal. He pointed the chopsticks at the invitations. "And, how's it going?"
"5 'regrets' from people I really wish could come, and 22 'accepts' from people I can't even remember inviting. Lucy asked whether she can bring a friend."
"Oh, that's right, Lucy!" Clark interrupted her. "She asked me to remind you to call her!"
"Aha!" Lois smiled. "I knew you'd try to sweet-talk her. Did you weasel it out of her?"
Clark shook his head. "That wasn't very nice of you, blackmailing her with Perry! She wouldn't even give in when I tried to lure her with a date with Jimmy!"
Lois laughed out loud. "Already taking out the big guns! Well sorry, farmboy, all is vain against the persuasive powers of a big sister! Oh, and if you happen to talk to my mother, tell her hi for me and to call me back!"
Smiling, she glanced sidelong, knowing full well that he hadn't succeeded in reaching her mother either, just as she hadn't the night before. Lucy and her mom. It was so obvious! Did he think she was kidding when she told him she had covered her tracks?
"Oh, you little vixen!" In a flash Clark leaned across and pulled her onto his lap and began to tickle her mercilessly. Giggling, Lois wriggled until he stopped, and remained where she was.
He looked at her reproachfully but couldn't suppress the twinkle of his eyes. "You know, Lois, it doesn't seem right to me that you made inaccurate statements on your personal file. Maybe I need to have a serious conversation with Perry about this!"
"What!" Lois raged. "You looked at my personnel file?" She lifted her hand to give him a shove.
Laughing, Clark avoided her and grabbed her wrist to pull her against him when he suddenly began to groan. "Not again! I just got home! I need a break!"
Lois just looked at him. They both knew that he would go nonetheless. "What is it this time?" she asked, resigned. If they could just spend a quiet evening at least once in a while …
"It sounds like a chase on the highway. I'll hurry." Whoosh, a turn into his costume and he was on his way.
Lois had gotten used to their evenings being interrupted regularly. She knew it was useless to dwell on it, so she went back to sorting through the rsvp's.
She smiled to herself. Clark's idea with her personal file hadn't been bad. She'd never have thought he'd look at her file behind her back. Normally he wouldn't break the rules by doing something like checking out Planet employee's personal files. He was very concerned about what was allowed and what wasn't. The bet seemed to be really important to him to resort to such tricks.
After half an hour Clark was back again. He saw that in the meantime Lois had finished the sorting. "I'm sorry, honey, that you have to do all this stuff alone!" He looked at her guiltily and she immediately wanted to make him feel better about it. It wasn't his fault after all.
"Hey, I don't mind!" she replied softly. "It's not like you aren't doing anything." She took a good look at him. Clark looked weary. "Come on, lay down on the sofa so you can rest a little bit."
Clark did as he was told and put his head in her lap. Lois gently ran her hand through his hair and began to tell him who had already accepted for the wedding. After a few moments of silence she realized that Clark hadn't listened to her at all. He had fallen asleep. She stayed like this for a while, content with just being with him, being able to observe him unnoticed, when she too began to yawn. A quick glance at her watch told her that it was already rather late. It didn't look like Clark was going to wake up any time soon so she decided to go home.
Just as she was trying to figure out how to get up without waking him up, she noticed that he was becoming lighter — he was beginning to float. She slipped out from under him and watched him for a moment. When he reached eye level, she kissed him on the cheek and whispered: "Good night, Clark. Sweet dreams." Before she left, she put a slip of paper on the coffee table.
*Breakfast at my place. I'll make coffee, you make everything else! LJ*
Lois was walking from her bath into the bedroom when she heard noise coming from the kitchen. "Wow, he's on time today." She put on her bathrobe and went to see Clark. "Good morning! No catastrophes kept you away for a change!"
Clark turned around from the stove and the eggs he was scrambling, and came over to kiss her. "No, thank god not. The only disaster I have to prevent is Lois Jill Lane in the kitchen!" He laughingly tried to dodge her blow. "I'm sorry I fell asleep on you last night. Not much of host, huh?"
Lois embraced him. "As long as you're falling asleep in my arms, I don't mind."
"That's something you'll never have to worry about. You know that, don't you?"
She squeezed his waist in wordless agreement. "Have you thought of any more names besides Jill? You've been pretty unsuccessful so far, and I have to say, time is ticking away!" She was grinning when Clark grimaced.
"Don't remind me!" he lamented. I'm constantly busy, either working or … *working*, if you know what I mean. I can't even begin to come up with a systematic approach, or a way to lure it out of you. But, could I bribe you with breakfast?"
"Nice try, Kent, but what is breakfast compared to a night with you?" She winked at him.
"Oh well, can I possibly persuade you to extend the deadline for a day or … say … three weeks?" He kissed her on the tip of her nose.
"You should have considered that earlier, honey, before you bet with me. You should know by now that I only play to win." She went back to the bedroom to dress for work.
"Justine, Jona?" Clark called after her. She just laughed.
"Was your mother a hippie? Flower power, all that?"
"Excuse me?" Lois looked at Clark, perplexed.
He hurried to swallow his toast and explain his thought. "Well, if she was, Joy would be the obvious choice, wouldn't it?"
Lois tried to imagine her mother in tie-dyed clothes, flowers in her hair, walking through a field. She failed miserably. "Definitely not love and peace for my mom!"
"Okay, then let me guess some more. Ya know, eating stimulates the brain. Judith, July, Joanne, Juliett? And how does Jewel sound?"
"I definitely hope that I am your diamond, honey, but my parents' … I don't think so!"
Lois' last sentence reminded Clark of something she had told him once, during their first date: that her father had wished for a son. He looked at her thoughtfully. A boy's name? That would explain why Lois was so adamant about somebody learning it though it wasn't that uncommon. He decided to test his theory. "Didn't you once tell me that your father always wanted a son?"
Lois swallowed her coffee and began to cough. Clark was on the other side of the table in a flash and patted her on the back. He let his hand rest there when she had calmed down and he leaned against the table to study her carefully. She looked at him, alarmed, and hesitantly answered his earlier question: "Yes, why?"
"Don't tell me your parents gave you a boy's name!" Lois was shocked that he had found out and said nothing at all. "Well, say something!" He nudged her. "You promised to tell the truth when I guessed!"
"You haven't suggested any names so I don't have to answer you." she said shortly. She took the short pause following her outburst to glance at her watch and get up. "We should go now or we'll be late for work."
"You can't do that! Hey, Lois, that's not fair!" Lois only lifted an eyebrow. Her reaction was enough for Clark. "Ha, I knew it! It's a boy's name. Oh sheesh, now that I'm through with all the girls' names I can start again with boys!" he grumbled. "What were your parents thinking?"
Lois realized that denial wouldn't work. "Nothing!" she answered curtly. "Well, anyway, I'm leaving for work now. Do you want to join me when you've got your act together or do you want to spend the rest of the day standing here?" She took her purse and left the apartment.
Clark just stood there and watched her go, stunned. Boy, was she mad! He cleared the table, did the dishes and sat in the passenger seat before Lois had the chance to stick the key into the ignition. He carefully glanced at her but she stubbornly looked straight ahead. "Are you ticked at me, or …?"
At his tentative question her expression softened, and she sighed, finally looking at him. "No, I'm not. Of course I'm not mad at you. It's not your fault after all." She put her hand on his leg and already felt better when he placed his hand atop hers to show her he understood. His touch always seemed to calm her. "I'm sorry I reacted like that. And anyway …" She shot him a mischievous look. "You still haven't found out my name and the fact that I'll be winning makes everything all right!"
Clark fidgeted restlessly in his seat. Slowly time was running out. Lois looked at him and saw how uncomfortable he felt. She smiled to herself. She wasn't going to give in on the time limit, but he'd be feeling considerably better tonight — she'd make sure of it!
All hell had broken loose in the newsroom that day and Clark didn't get to make further suggestions regarding Lois' name. He had to help out as Superman and had to go into the archives to look through some old records they needed for their story so they didn't see that much of each other — again.
Late in the afternoon, Lois looked up from her desk at Clark who was actually there for a change and decided that it was time for a little diversion. He was so wrapped up in his papers that he only realized she was standing behind him when she circled her arms around his neck and leaned down to him. "Busy?" she whispered in his ear and kissed him on the side of his neck.
Clark pushed the papers away, turned around in his chair to face her and put his hands on her hips. "Yes, but I'm grateful for any distraction — especially you! How are you doing? Did you already finish what you were working on?"
Lois nodded. "I got the interview and we only need your background story to send it to Perry and call it a day."
Clark checked his watch. "How would you like going home already? I'll wrap everything up and follow in about an hour. Is that okay with you? Oh, and don't bother cooking!" He winked at her. "I'll pick something up for dinner." He had to restrain himself so Lois wouldn't see him suppressing his laughter. He didn't want to ruin his nice plan. But Lois was too lost in her own thoughts, thinking about the evening ahead. She kissed him good bye and murmured: "I can't wait. Hurry!"
Clark knocked at her door about an hour and a half later. "Wow!" he breathed when Lois opened. She was wearing a short low-cut dress made of black chiffon and she simply looked stunning.
Walking through the living room into the kitchen to put down the bag he was carrying with him, he saw that she had lit candles all through the room. They smiled at each other as Lois stepped in front of him. "I wanted tonight to be special." she explained.
"Oh, it will be, Lois, it will!"
"And what did you get us?" She tried to peek into the bag but Clark stopped her.
He took her into the living room and they sat down on the sofa, snuggling. Lois looked at her watch. "You still have a quarter of an hour. Do you want to try any names in the time you have left?"
""Oh, now that I've found out it's a boy's name, I should try some of them but … I don't feel like it." And he pulled her to him to kiss her thoroughly. Lois closed her eyes and laughed against his lips, secure in the knowledge she had won. She couldn't see Clark's sparkling eyes. He just couldn't resist putting her off a little bit longer.
"Giving up already, Kent? That was easier than I expected! And here I thought you wanted to win!" she teased him a moment later.
"You're right. I shouldn't just give up, should I? Okay, so the family names first. No, wait, Sam starts with an S. What was your mother's maiden name again?" Lois just shook her head smiling. "Okay, let's try the Rumpelstiltskin way: are you maybe called John or Jason or are you called Jenn…a?" He saw Lois wincing as he dragged out the last syllable. Bingo! Got her! "Stop, wait! We've already established it's a boy's name and that's a girl's one." he continued. "So, then perhaps Jenner?"
Lois pulled away a bit and pouted. "That's mean! How did you find out?"
"I told you I'm the best! … The second best." he added with a mischievous look at Lois' face.
"Don't stall! I want to know! Tell me. Now!" She poked him impatiently in the ribs.
"If you recall, I was in the old archives for a long time today"
"Yes, for checking the background for our story."
"That was only part of what I did. I also looked for your birth announcement in the Planet and your parents were so kind to mention both names."
"You've known the whole day and haven't said anything?" She looked at him incredulously.
"I knew, yes. I really had to struggle not to slip, I tell ya! And now, admit it, it was an ingenious idea, I WON!!" He drew her back into his arms and laced his hands behind her back.
"Ok, you won, and yes, it was a great idea. Happy now? I never even thought of the announcement. I've always just worked on hiding legal documents … birth certificate, driver's license."
"How did your parents get to call you Jenner? I've never heard of it before." he wanted to know.
"Well, I already told you that my father was very disappointed when mom gave birth to me — a girl." A shadow crossed her face and Clark sympathetically rubbed her back. "To compensate for this failure," she continued, "he decided to at least give me a name that would make up for it. He wanted to save the family names like his and my grandfather's for the next kid, which would hopefully be a boy. So he decided to grace me with Jenner." she said bitterly.
Clark stroked her cheek and kissed her temple. "And what's the significance of that?" he asked softly.
"You know, around the time I was born, dad was already an up and coming doctor. He wanted to make a name in the scientific community. He always dreamed about finding the cure to different kinds of diseases. He was very ambitious. And he was obsessed with his work. So he named me after Edward Jenner."
"And he is …?" Clark gently stroked her back, feeling Lois all tensed up.
"He was the doctor who brought the small-pox vaccine to the world." She grimaced.
"Oh!" Clark wasn't that surprised at all, knowing Sam. It made perfect sense to him.
"And if that wasn't enough, he started calling me that from time to time. I didn't think about it often, I was used to it. But one day, after Lucy was born and mom didn't want any more children, I overheard my parents arguing. Dad said something to the effect that mom wasn't even able to give him what he wished for most, a boy. He said the family was incomplete without a son and heir, that there was no one he would be remembered by. I felt so inferior. It was like I wouldn't count, like I wouldn't be worth anything. Like he didn't really see me, only the failure." Her voice grew softer and softer. The relationship with her parents was a very emotional subject for her.
"Anyway, so I tried my best to be recognized by him, being best in school, doing everything to please him, to make up for the fact that I was only a girl. It didn't work and every time he called me Jenner, I knew that all my efforts were for nothing. So I stopped reacting to that name. I made him call me Lois. If I wouldn't succeed in pleasing him, I at least wanted to be called by a name that was me and not some one else." Her eyes began to water.
Clark knew how hard it was for Lois to open up that much and talk about her troubled childhood. It didn't happen often and so it made his heart go out to her even more. He laid his cheek on her hair and gently rocked her. "Sssshhh, sweetheart. Now you have me and a family that adores you and you don't have to please us. You will always be the most important, precious thing to me. I'm sorry to have brought it up but I didn't know it would upset you this much." He softly kissed her eyelids to stop her tears from flowing.
Lois took a deep breath to calm down. "You couldn't know and I should have told you sooner anyway." she said. "It was a long time ago and I haven't thought of it for quite a while now. You see, it's not the name that's upsetting me that much, although I don't like it, it's more everything that went along with it. The pain of not being accepted or feeling loved. And at least daddy's trying his best now. And even if I was unhappy then, I will never forget that he saved you last Christmas. I will always be grateful for that. He went a long way towards making up for my childhood by helping me to have a happy future with you. I don't know what I would have done without his help!" She hugged Clark with a sudden fierceness.
He tried to lighten the mood a bit. They had wanted to make this evening an evening to remember and that was what he intended to do even if his plan was slightly different from hers. "You know, honey, maybe now you'll have some fond memories in connection with this name, right? Now when you hear it, it'll remind you of our bet, and you won't just think of your dad.". He grinned at her and stroked her hair. There was only one more thing he wanted to know: the person that had started all this. "And how did Linda find out about your name?"
"She asked Lucy what I hated the most and Lucy knew that being called Jenner gave me a fit. My little sister had a crush on Linda's brother for quite some time then and Linda talked him into a date with Lucy in exchange for the information she got. So much for sisterly love! I only hope you know, that it's in your best interest to *never* mention this name to anyone!" She smiled at him. "But since you managed to find out, I think you've earned a reward!" She kissed him and began to unbutton his shirt.
Clark leaned back slightly and took her hands in his. "Hey, I won, remember? That means we wait 'til after the wedding and … you take cooking lessons!"
Lois grimaced. She'd hoped he would forget about that.
Clark continued. "I found out that most cooking classes take ten evenings. Since I didn't want to spend that many nights away from you, I've decided that *I'll* be your instructor! And you know what they say, no time like the present." He put his arms around Lois and floated them into the kitchen where he had previously put down the bag that held the supplies for their cookery course.
Realizing what he had just said, Lois smiled to herself. Perhaps this course wouldn't be as bad as she had dreaded. She would make sure to spice it up some!