By Wendy Richards <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Submitted April 2000
Summary: It's Valentine's Day, and Clark is absent again. But maybe he has a surprise for Lois?
This is set in Season 1, just after "The Foundling," though I've taken very slight liberties with the timeline in that, while "Foundling" was first shown on 20 February, I'm 'pretending' that it took place in the week preceding that date.
All rights etc belong to those who have the legal right to them.
Valentine's Day. One of the crassest celebrations ever invented, Lois thought savagely as she fought her way through what seemed like armies of dedicated purveyors of romance at the mall. As if it wasn't enough that every single shop in the place had windows full of huge red hearts and pink bows and cute teddy-bears, casual traders were everywhere with their stalls and carts, huge helium balloons floating above them.
Lois hated Valentine's Day even more than she hated Christmas. It was just so crassly consumerist, she had decided in her teenage years. Simply another excuse for Hallmark and other such companies to make a fortune — and as for the florists who doubled the price of their flowers and tripled the price of red roses, they were simply opportunist rip-off merchants. In her first year at the Planet, she had written a piece for the Saturday supplement on the fourteenth of February as a cynical marketing device — heck, they even had *kids* sending each other Valentine cards these days!
<Ah, but your dislike of Valentine's Day wouldn't have anything to do with the fact that you were never the one with lots of cards on the day when you were at school, would it?> the annoying voice of her conscience pointed out. She grimaced. She hadn't *wanted* them anyway — it was a stupid idea. But every year, reliable as clockwork, all the girls in her class would come into school boasting about how many they'd received and speculating on the identity of the senders… and even Lucy's count had extended into double figures by the time she was fifteen.
But she'd been at school then; somehow it seemed to her that adults should be more sensible, less prone to such childish stunts. And yet at work that day Cat had sidled up to her, a smug expression on her face as she'd smiled at Lois.
"So, Lois, doing anything special tomorrow?"
"No, why would I?" Lois had retorted, turning away.
"Oh, come on! The most romantic night of the year — you mean you aren't spending it with a gorgeous guy who'll wine you and dine you, and swear undying… passion for you?" Cat had grinned maliciously before continuing. "Oh, but of course, I forgot… this is *Lois* I'm talking to. You're more likely to spend the evening with a computer, aren't you?"
Turning to walk away, her point made, Cat had then added, "I do hope you'll be happy together, Lois — you and your career, I mean."
She'd cast the older woman a bored glance before tossing her head and walking away, but as she'd done so Lois had caught sight of Clark, who was sitting at his desk nearby. It seemed as if her partner had overheard the exchange, for he was looking in Cat's direction with an unusually annoyed expression on his face. The last thing she'd wanted was anyone's sympathy, however, so she swept past him and back to her desk.
So what if she wasn't spending Valentine's Day with anyone? she told herself now. It wasn't as if there was anyone she wanted to be with, anyway. She just wasn't interested in men…
Except one. One man she had fallen head over heels in love with the very first time she'd seen him. One man who somehow made every other man she'd met seem insignificant. One man who was just… perfect.
And who was maddeningly, completely out of her reach.
Oh, he cared about her, he'd made that clear on several occasions. He seemed to see her as a friend, and he'd even kissed her once, though that had — sadly — only been because he was under the influence of a pheromone. But he didn't confide in her, and she was forced to conclude that he didn't really trust her. He'd never told her his real name, just told her, when she'd asked, that Superman — the name she'd coined for him — seemed to have caught on. He never told her anything personal about himself. And even just the other day, when she'd given him his globe back, he'd said nothing about what it was or what significance it had for him.
One-sided love was such a painful thing, she mused, trying not to look at all the cards and heart-shaped chocolate boxes on the displays.
But on the other hand, had she ever tried to tell Superman how she felt? How did she know he felt nothing for her in return? That kiss… that pheromone, she remembered suddenly. She and Clark had concluded in the end that it only worked where there was some underlying attraction there to begin with. <Okay, so why were you all over Clark?> that annoying little voice interjected again, but she brushed it aside. Superman had swallowed the full-strength version of the spray that day at the airport. He had then declared that he loved her, and kissed her like she had never been kissed, before or since — if he hadn't been holding her at the time, her legs would simply not have held her up.
She knew it had been the pheromone, because he would never had made such overt advances to her without it. But… if it was the pheromone, then he *had* to be attracted to her! And if he was attracted to her… why didn't he do anything about it?
Why didn't he…? Suddenly she remembered something Clark had said to her, the evening of the charity auction when she'd failed to buy the date with Superman. 'Have you ever thought that Superman might be afraid to show his true feelings?' Clark had asked. At the time, she had been vaguely comforted by those words, but she hadn't given the idea much thought since.
But… could it be true?
And if it was… what could she do about it?
Tell him how she felt, she thought with sudden resolve. It was Valentine's Day the next day: the perfect opportunity. If she could find him, that was…
On impulse, she marched into the nearest card shop and bought the most romantic Valentine card she could find.
Driving to work the following morning, Lois was regretting her impulse of the previous evening. What made her think that Superman would be remotely interested in her romantically? And how on earth was she planning on getting the card to him, anyway? It wasn't as if she could simply put it in a mailbox addressed to 'Superman, Metropolis.' And if she did, and it somehow got to him, how many other thousands of women would have done the same thing?
No, it was a crazy idea. She might as well tear up the card and throw it in the trash, she decided.
As she marched down the ramp into the bullpen, she noticed several of her colleagues giving her strange looks. Wondering whether she was wearing odd shoes or snagged pantyhose, or even whether the buttons of her blouse were askew, she thought of fleeing to the ladies' room to check; but then her gaze was caught by a blaze of colour on her desk.
Red. Deep red… crimson. The colour of red roses.
They were red roses. A dozen of them — no, ten of them, she realised as she reached her desk; she dropped her coat and bag in amazement as she stared at the arrangement. And they were fresh: these had not come from any florist. Drops of dew still gleamed on their petals. A card was propped up in front of the vase, the envelope addressed to 'Lois Lane.'
Ten roses; that was a strange number. Out of the corner of her eye she could see Cat surreptitiously watching her, a disbelieving expression on the older woman's face. Lois couldn't blame her: the idea that someone would send her roses was almost too weird to be true.
She ripped the envelope open and stared at the unfamiliar script on the plain white card within.
'To Lois, who will always be special to me -
One rose for every month since we met.
She turned the card over, but the reverse was blank. There was no other clue as to the sender.
Ten roses… ten months. She counted back… last May. Who had she met for the first time last May who would send her flowers?
May. The stolen car ring. The Messenger explosion… the Prometheus space station. Superman!
But… Superman wouldn't send her red roses… would he?
She slid into her chair, trying to quell the instant thrill she felt at the possibility. No — there had to be someone else. Lex… she'd also met Lex Luthor then for the first time, at the White Orchid Ball. And, she had to admit, this was certainly in Lex's style. But if it was Lex, he would follow it up in some way.
But did she want him to, if it was?
If she was honest with herself… no. She knew Lex found her attractive, and in fact he'd asked her out a couple of times now. Although she had been on at least one date with him, there was always a nagging suspicion in the back of her mind that his interest in her wasn't entirely motivated by admiration; he'd be a dangerous man to cross, and perhaps even more dangerous to get involved with. And anyway, she wasn't in love with him. She never felt, with Lex, any desire to forget her inhibitions, to abandon herself to his kisses — and the thought of going to bed with him had never even crossed her mind, she realised suddenly.
So if her admirer was Lex, then what would she do?
She pushed that thought aside; after all, it might not be him. There was still Superman. But how was she going to find out?
Jimmy rushed up to her desk, disturbing her contemplation. "Hey, Lois, this just came for you!" he exclaimed, pushing an envelope into her hand. "Nice flowers, by the way — he must be crazy about you!"
Lois waved him away, only opening the envelope once he'd gone. Inside was a plain sheet of white paper, with no distinguishing marks whatsoever, but on it was a message in the same handwriting.
'Lois — I hope you liked my surprise.
If you want to know more, meet me tonight -
Daily Planet roof, 8pm.
She lowered the paper to her desk, staring blankly into space. The Daily Planet roof? What did that suggest…? Lex would never suggest that — he'd send a car to her apartment, sweep her off to his penthouse or to the best table in the most expensive restaurant in town. No, it couldn't be Lex.
She was amazed at the sense of relief she felt at that conclusion.
So… could it be Superman? Getting onto the roof would be no problem at all for him. But if it was Superman, why hadn't he just said he'd meet her at her apartment?
It was at that point that Lois began to wonder whether this wasn't all just an elaborate set-up. It wouldn't, after all, be the first time that someone she'd been responsible for putting in prison, or whose career she had brought down by one of her investigations, had tried to harm her in some way. What if it was? What if she turned up on the Planet roof that evening and some crazed madman tried to push her off? Sure, she could always yell 'Help, Superman!' but there was no guarantee that he'd get there on time.
"You okay, Lois?" a concerned voice asked softly, and she turned to see Clark Kent bearing his usual good-morning tokens, a mug of coffee and her favourite doughnut. He laid them on her desk and hovered, awaiting an answer.
She was about to brush him off with a non-committal answer, but something about his concerned expression stopped her. This, after all, was the guy who had saved her life a few weeks ago, who had held her in his arms on her kitchen floor after that crazy master of disguise had tried to strangle her. The man she had pleaded with to stay, not to leave her. Looking at Clark then, seeing an echo of the caring, worried look he'd worn then in his expression now, she suddenly wanted to confide in him.
"See this," she told him, gesturing towards the note.
He read it quickly over her shoulder, then glanced back at her. "This is a problem?"
She shrugged. "Tell me I'm being paranoid if you like, Clark, but it seems weird. Why the Planet roof? Who'd want to meet up there? Superman, maybe, but why would Superman send me roses — I mean, the guy could have any woman he wants!" She broke off quickly, not wanting Clark to detect her yearning. "Anyway, I was just a bit… well, what if it's someone wanting to get revenge on me?"
He was silent for a moment or two, then he offered hesitantly, "I'm not doing anything tonight, Lois — if you want, I could hide up there and keep an eye on you. When your… 'admirer' turns up, if it's someone you want to be with, I'll just disappear."
Lois stared at him. "You'd do that for me?"
He seemed surprised. "Of course."
Clark as her protector? Remembering the way he'd dropped his pencil at least twice in yesterday's staff meeting and had taken ages to find it again, her initial response was to be sceptical. But then she remembered again his concern for her safety over the Winninger murder; he really had gone to a lot of trouble to watch out for her safety, and he had saved her life. On impulse then, she reached for his hand and squeezed it. "Thanks, Clark. That's really nice of you."
When he'd gone back to his own desk, she tried to focus on work but instead began to tap her pencil against the edge of her desk. Clark really was a pretty nice guy. Okay, they'd had their ups and downs, and she was still a little mad at him for lying to her over the burglary at his apartment — she couldn't understand why he would have done that. But he was… nice.
Maybe, if this thing was just a trick after all, she'd ask him to go for a drink with her later on.
It was cold up on the roof, and dark. Lois shivered a little even wrapped in her overcoat, and checked her watch for the tenth time since she'd emerged from the stairwell. Clark was already up there somewhere, probably hiding behind one of the ventilation shafts, she assumed; he'd stopped by her desk about ten minutes earlier to tell her he was on his way up. She'd gone home earlier to change clothes, but had been back in the newsroom for about half an hour, finishing up a story.
So when was her 'Admirer' going to show up?
And how was he going to arrive? Out through the stairwell… or by helicopter, perhaps? Or under his own steam… She searched the night sky; nothing but stars and the lights of the city.
"Oh, this is ridiculous!" she muttered suddenly. She wasn't going to hang around any longer — someone was obviously playing a practical joke on her. Cat, most likely, and how Ms Grant would laugh if she knew that Lois had actually taken the bait and was standing around on the Planet roof like a lemon.
She was about to stalk off towards the stairwell door when suddenly there was a sound, almost like rushing wind. She froze.
That voice… she recognised it! And… she swung around, searching. Where was it coming from?
"Yes…?" she called in reply. Where was he?
"I'm glad you came." This time the deep tones were unmistakeable.
She caught her breath. "Thank you for the roses. They're beautiful."
"I'm glad you like them," he replied, and she swivelled around as this time the voice was coming from somewhere else. He was managing to keep himself hidden extremely well as he circled the roof, staying behind her all the time.
"Why don't you come over here where I can see you?" she asked softly, turning in the direction of his voice again, wanting… *needing* to see him to convince herself that this was real, that it really was the man who she'd been hoping had sent her the roses and those notes.
"In a minute, Lois," he answered, and again the voice came from behind her.
"Why did you send me the flowers?" she asked him.
This time his voice held a note of amusement. "Why do you think? It's Valentine's Day, Lois — isn't that what people do on Valentine's Day?"
"Only if… if they mean it," she answered, her breath caught in her throat.
"And you think I don't?" His voice was soft, a questioning note in it.
"I… wasn't sure," she told the darkness.
"I mean it," he said, his tone more assured this time.
"Then… come here and let me see you," she asked, unsure why he was insisting on hiding himself from her. It wasn't like him to be quite so shy, so unsure of himself. Okay, at times in the ten months she'd known him he had seemed awkward in her company, sometimes leaving abruptly if things threatened to get a little too personal. But this… this was different, surely. He'd declared himself now by sending those flowers, by telling her she was special, by meeting her like this.
"Close your eyes," he instructed softly.
Lois obeyed, feeling a little thrill at this intrigue he was indulging in. It was all part of the magic of the occasion: the flowers, unsigned; the strange location for their meeting; his lurking in the dark even though she was now very sure that she knew who he was.
She heard the soft footsteps, the rustle of his garments; felt his presence as he stopped in front of her. "No peeking, now," came the low whisper of his voice; his breath was warm on her chilly face.
She waited, breathless with anticipation.
Then she felt warm lips on hers, a kiss which was beautiful in its sweetness, devastating in its effect even though it wasn't particularly passionate; it was a declaration of something, though; the same declaration which the red roses had made. Yes, she knew those lips from the way their owner kissed her: she had been right. She had known who her secret admirer was. As the card had suggested, someone she'd met first last May; someone who thought she was special to him. And it was someone she trusted implicitly: she would go anywhere with him and feel safe. She didn't need a protector with this man.
As the kiss ended and her admirer stepped back, Lois fumbled in the large pocket of her coat, glad now that she'd given in to the impulse she'd had before leaving home. She pulled out the Valentine's Day card she'd bought the night before and which she'd written before leaving home so that she could give it to him.
Opening her eyes and smiling up at him, she held out the card. "Happy Valentine's Day, Clark."
His eyes widened as he accepted the card from her; obviously he'd been expecting her to be disappointed that it was him. She linked her arm through his, leaning into his warm body; instantly he looped his arm around her shoulders instead, holding her close. "You guessed it was me?"
She raised an eyebrow in a challenging manner. "Lois Lane, top investigative reporter? You think I wouldn't?" No need to tell him that it had been a dawning realisation in the car on her way home to get changed: that she had also known *Clark* for ten months, that she knew he admired her, that he'd told her once that he thought she was a very special person. And that he'd overheard her conversation with Cat.
She'd half-thought he'd arranged this — sent her the flowers, the note — because he felt sorry for her, because he wanted Cat to know that she'd been wrong about Lois not having anyone to be with. But when he'd spoken to her through the darkness, she'd known that sympathy had nothing to do with why Clark had done this.
And mere curiosity had nothing to do with why she was here with him, and why she'd given him the card. She could no longer fool herself where Clark was concerned; she was falling in love with him. Okay, he wasn't Superman — but who was? But he was reliable, caring, gentle, loyal and the best friend she'd ever had. And his kisses had the power to drive her insane; even though her focus on a man who was unattainable had led her to overlook that fact, it was undeniable once she remembered the small number of occasions on which they had kissed.
As for Superman — oh, she would always have feelings for him, but although he was clearly fond of her, her musings on the way home had led her to realise that even if he did feel the same way about her as she did, they could never have a relationship. Wanting to be Superman's girlfriend was like wishing for the moon — he was out of her reach, and even if she got her wish she was unlikely to be satisfied with the outcome.
Whereas Clark… with Clark she could have a real relationship, with a man she could feel equal to rather than inadequate next to. They could do all the things couples do. And best of all, she felt sure that she could trust Clark to be open with her.
If she hadn't been dazzled by Superman, she had accepted as she'd got ready, she probably would have fallen in love with Clark a long time ago. But thanks to the fact that he'd now made the first move, they could make up for lost time.
There was just one thing, though… "Clark — just how did you manage to keep behind me all the time without me seeing you move?"
His faint laughter came to her through the darkness, and he moved a little ahead of her to open the door, gesturing her to go in front of him. "I'll tell you later, perhaps. For now… may I take my Valentine out to dinner?"
Wendy Richards email@example.com