By Gerry Anklewicz <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Submitted: March 2000
Summary: Lois and Clark have been dating for a short time and of course there are … Valentine Expectations.
The mall was crowded and noisy. Filled with clumps of teenagers either wandering from store to store or just hanging around, rushed women trying to do a week's worth of shopping in one short afternoon, and frantic men looking for last minute gifts, the mall definitely was the last place Lois Lane wanted to be on a Saturday afternoon. Sitting down with a piece of chocolate that she felt she deserved for having to put up with this crass commercialism, she looked around her and decided that she wasn't happy with her alternatives.
'The problem here,' she told herself, 'is expectations. I've been dating Clark for a few weeks, and all of a sudden, I have to worry about Valentine's Day. There are expectations that he's going to have and that I have as well. I have to get him something. But, I've only been dating him for a short time and whatever I get him he's going to read the wrong message into it. He's my friend, but if we weren't dating, I wouldn't necessarily… strike the necessarily…I wouldn't,' she edited herself, 'get him anything. Now we're an undefined couple or at least an 'on-our-way-to-being-a-couple' and all of a sudden I'm expected to celebrate this non-holiday called Valentine's Day. The only ones who benefit from the day are florists, greeting card companies, chocolate companies (oh, alright, there is something good about Valentine's Day).'
'Conspicuous consumerism,' Lois spat out the alliteration.
'I don't really have to get him anything, but expectations come into this as well. Knowing Clark, he's going to do something really special. He's already invited me out for dinner. Clark is the most romantic man on the planet and I can guess what I can expect from him. Flowers. Candlelight. Champagne. A box of chocolates (yes please). Romance. He could sweep me off my feet if I let him. So, I've been in this mall for three hours and all I have are sore feet, a headache, and a chocolate bar wrapper. No gift. No idea what to get him. It's time to leave.' Lois scrunched up the wrapper, threw it into the garbage can, and headed toward the exit.
She had tried to find the defining Clark gift without it seeming cheesy, crass, or common. If she was going to get him any kind of gift, it had to be the perfect gift. She didn't want him to be disappointed thinking that he had gotten her something special and she just got him something…last minute, and it had to be the right price, not too much and not too little. She had to show him that she could deal with Valentine's Day too.
Lois started looking in the better men's shops. Her first thought was a tie, but that would be like bringing sand to the Sahara. When she looked at sweaters, she decided that clothing was much too impersonal. She knew his taste in books and CDs, but once again they were too impersonal. Maybe if there was a special, meaningful book or CD she could get it for him, but she couldn't think of anything. She saw some displays of boxer shorts with glow-in-the-dark hearts on them, but they were too crass. 'Although,' thought Lois, 'I wouldn't mind seeing what Clark looked like in boxers or briefs.' She smiled at her temerity. She was looking for a gift that would knock his socks off. She immediately discarded the idea of red socks with hearts. Tickets for sporting events. Cologne. A desk accessory. A coffee table knick-knack. All of those might be appropriate for a birthday, maybe for Christmas, but not for Valentine's Day. At one point she had thought of preparing a romantic, candlelit dinner for Clark, but then she remembered that she would be the cook and pasta salad isn't very romantic.
'This is the stupidest shopping expedition of my life. Why am I falling for this? I really know better. I should have just told Clark that Valentine's Day is foolish and we should just ignore it and move on.' It had been years since Valentine's Day meant anything to her. Why was this year different? 'Clark.' She knew that, with all her frustration and resentment, she wanted to be with Clark on Valentine's Day and she wanted him to bring her flowers, take her out for dinner, look at her as if she was the only person in the whole wide world, court her and, of course, bring her some chocolates. And so, she had to find the right gift for Clark because there was no way that he was going to get the upper hand.
When Lois reached her parking spot, she was surprised that she hardly remembered driving home. Rather than pay attention to her driving, she'd pondered the alternatives and come up with nothing.
'I want to get him something that says he's special, that says I care, but that doesn't make any commitments. Clark is the nicest person. He cares about me in a way that I've never felt before. Whatever he does seems to be for my good rather than for his needs or wishes; though he can be an overprotective mother hen which is really annoying. But when I think about him like this, I do get this warm and fuzzy feeling all over.
'He's extremely patient. I know that he's cared about me for a long time, but he's waited for me to be ready. He never pushed hard; he just nudged gently. He never tried to change me; in fact, he seems to enjoy me for who I am rather than for who he wants me to be.
Lois walked from her jeep over to her apartment still thinking about Clark. 'He's a good man. It's not just a surface trait. It goes deep down. He cares about individual people as well as the common good.'
'He's gentle. His physical size is deceptive.'
Lois let herself into her apartment and plopped herself onto her couch. 'Lois Lane,' she said out loud, 'you are an incredibly blind woman. This man loves you and you know it. You also know that you love him. Okay, I admit it. I love Clark Kent.' Lois closed her eyes and let the admission sweep over her body. Her head felt clear; her heart beat normally; her stomach felt settled. Her feet still hurt, but she'd get over that as soon as she took her shoes off.
'Maybe it is time to let him know how I feel. He's always waited for me to let him know how I feel.' Lois smiled. She knew what she would give Clark for Valentine's Day.
Clark stood in front of Lois's apartment door. He clutched a large bouquet of perfect red roses in one hand and grasped a bottle of champagne in the other. He carried a large, red, heart- shaped box under his arm.
'Okay,' he thought. 'This is it.' He knocked on the door with the champagne bottle and didn't have to wait long before Lois answered the door. He stood and stared.
"Lois, you look incredibly beautiful. That burgundy dress looks fantastic on you."
"Do you think so?" countered Lois, blushing a little at Clark's unabashed admiration.
"Oh, yes." He stepped inside the door, wanting to hug her, but he was hampered by all his gifts for her. "These are for you, Lois." He handed her the bouquet of roses.
"Clark, these are absolutely beautiful. Thank you." She took the bouquet from him and walked towards the kitchen with Clark following her. As she filled a crystal vase with water and placed the roses in it, Clark went to the cupboard and took out two champagne flutes.
"Aren't we going to dinner?" Lois asked.
"We are, but I made the reservation for a bit later. I thought it would be nice just to relax a bit before we go out. Let's go sit down."
Lois led them into the living room. She placed the roses on the coffee table and sat down. Clark poured the previously-cooled-by- super-breath champagne into the flutes and handed one to Lois. He sat beside her and asked, "Be my Valentine, Lois?"
Clark watched the pink rise in her face. She glanced down and stared at the champagne flute. Clark kicked himself. He knew that he was coming on too strong again. He had embarrassed Lois and that made him feel uncomfortable. He knew that Lois was cynical about the commercialism of Valentine's Day. That was one of the reasons why he'd decided to make a big deal out of the day. It could've been a fun way for them to get closer. Or not. Just as he was about to apologize for putting his foot in his mouth, Lois shyly glanced up at Clark, sheepishly smiled at him, and lightly tapped her champagne flute against his. 'Okay, Kent,' he thought, 'This is looking good. Whatever you do, don't push it.'
"I got you something for Valentine's Day," she said to him as she picked up a thin, square box wrapped in a flimsy white paper and decorated with a large handmade, red tulle bow. Clark stared at the box. It was so beautifully wrapped that he didn't want to open it, but he was curious to see what Lois would get him for Valentine's Day. He hadn't really expected anything, but…
"Aren't you going to open it?" she asked. Clark realized that this gift was important to her. He also realized that she was anxious for him to open the gift and to react.
"It's wrapped so beautifully, Lois. I hate to ruin it, but here goes…" He carefully removed the bow, took off the paper, and opened the box. He removed the top layer of tissue and found an old, thumbed through copy of Elizabeth Barrett Browning's Sonnets from the Portuguese. He flipped through the pages, seeing notes in Lois's handwriting. Clark felt a tightness in his throat. Lois had given him something that was deeply meaningful and personal about herself. He opened the fly-leaf and read: 'Clark, How do I love you? Let's count the ways… Lois.'
He looked at Lois, but didn't know what to say. She was looking at him with what appeared to be a pleased, yet smug smile. Speechless, Clark slowly leaned toward Lois, staring straight into her eyes. He put his hand on her cheek and, with his fingers, pushed back her hair. He whispered, "I don't know what to say, Lois. This is incredible." On the last word, their lips touched lightly. But neither of them were satisfied with the gentle kiss and they pressed harder against each other and began exploring. Clark's hand left Lois's face and he wrapped her in his arms as he continued to hungrily deepen the kiss. At this moment he knew that he had found his way home.
"Oh, Clark, I love you so much."
"Lois…" Clark still didn't know what to say. All he could feel was the warmth inside of him and there was no cold chill of doubts following it. So, instead of speaking, he just kissed his Lois again.
This wasn't the first time that Clark had kissed her passionately, but this was a kiss that Lois would never forget. She knew that her gift was the right one for Clark and the right one for her. And then, the little rogue in the back of her mind popped up and challenged, 'Let's see him top this one.'
"Lois," Clark interrupted her thoughts. "Open this." He passed her the heart-shaped box. Lois thought that there must be at least four layers of chocolate in it.
"Clark, I have a choice here: kissing you or eating chocolate. I know that you're not going to believe this, but I think the chocolate can wait."
"Just open it, Lois."
Lois opened the box. She was puzzled because, instead of the traditional box of chocolates, she found a Superman action figure lying on top of a bed of sumptuous red velvet. She picked up the action figure looking at it from all angles trying to figure out what it meant. She then rifled through the velvet and the box looking for some other clue to the meaning of the gift. Nothing.
"Superman?" Lois asked, trying to understand why Clark would give her this action figure when he knew that she was interested in him and not in the super hero.
"Yes." Clark acknowledged his name.
And something in Clark's tone of voice, something not quite Clark, told her to look at him. He was watching her, a mischievous grin on his face. "I love you, Lois. I wanted to give you all of myself," he explained.
And then, Lois began to understand what it all meant. Clark had just told her that he was Superman. The significance was percolating through her and she was feeling as if she was suffering from information overload. She wanted to yell some kind of error message, but she wasn't sure which one. She knew that she had to digest what she had just figured out. She didn't know what to say. She didn't know what she was feeling. This was incredible, but how did she feel about it? She got up and began to wander around the room. Clark got up and followed her with his eyes.
"You're…you're Superman!" she stuttered. "You've known me all these years and you never told me you were Superman."
"Well, I couldn't at the beginning…" he tried to explain.
"And you lied to me," she continued without listening to him. "You've been consistently lying to me, and then you have the audacity to want to have a relationship with me?"
"There were reasons…"
"Clark, you said you were my friend, but friends don't lie to each other."
"It wasn't really lying…"
"Right, obfuscation isn't lying. Give me a break…And I've said things to both of you. Oh my goodness, I'm so embarrassed. How could you have let me say those things?"
"I trusted you and expected you to trust me. I thought you were honorable and kind and good and my friend. Now, I'm not sure who I'm dealing with. I don't know who you are anymore."
"Why didn't I see this? Every time you ran out on me, every time you disappeared when something dramatic or dangerous was happening, every time you got a Superman exclusive, every time you knew who was coming to the door, every time you broke into an office or cracked open a safe…" Lois was beginning to see possibilities in this.
Clark could feel Lois calming down. He walked over to her and put his hands on her arms. She didn't flinch or shrug him off.
"Lois?" he asked. "How are you feeling about this?"
"I'm angry. I'm hurt. I want to yell. I want to scream. I feel like I've been deceived by my best friend and that isn't a nice feeling."
"Lois, I always knew that I was going to tell you. It just got to a point that I didn't know when to tell you. It's a secret that I've kept all my life. No one else knows except for my parents. It's a secret that you're safer not knowing."
"And you have just given me your biggest secret as a Valentine's Day gift."
"And you gave me your love." Clark looked at Lois not sure what to say next. She wasn't responding, just staring into his eyes, but it seemed that the angry fire was beginning to die down.
"Are we going to be able to get over this?" Clark asked.
"Yes, I think so, but we also have a lot to talk about."
"I have nothing to hide any more. I'll answer all your questions."
"What happened to the chocolates that were originally in the box?"
"The chocolates?" The question, coming out of the blue, put Clark off balance for a moment. "What chocolates?"
"In the box where you put the Superman action figure."
"There were no chocolates. I play basketball with a guy who owns a box factory and he got it for me when I asked him."
"Oh, I would've liked some chocolate right about now," she said regretfully.
"What about dinner? We still have reservations."
"If you don't mind, I think that we still need to talk and you probably don't want to do that in a public place. I'm not sure how calm I can stay."
"Okay. I'll go get some take-out and find some chocolate. I'll be right back." Clark leaned over, tenderly kissed Lois, and stepped back. "I've always wanted to do this in front of you." He removed his glasses, ripped open his shirt to reveal the S-symbol, and spun around.
In seconds, Lois faced Superman…Clark for the first time. She stared in disbelief as she watched him go to her window, look back at her, and leap up into the air. She watched as he flew off.
"That's really not fair. He can fly, and he ended up getting me the more exciting Valentine's Day gift." She looked down at the Superman action figure in her hand. "Just you wait. Next time, I'll get you."