By Meredith Knight <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Submitted: May 2002
Summary: This story picks up where the episode "All Shook Up" left off: Lois realises how Clark feels about her dismissive remarks, and decides to do something about it.
30-minute Episode Extension Challenge Fic: All Shook Up
I was nagged mercilessly on IRC to produce something for Wendy's 30-minute episode extension challenge. <g> It took me considerably longer than 30 minutes, though — I don't know how you guys do it. Either I'm hopelessly long- winded, or I need more practice (or possibly both.)
Many thanks to Jenni Debbage for considerably improving my original ending, and to Jenni and LabRat for lightning BR turnaround.
Without further ado, here's…
ALL SEWN UP
From the script:
LOIS (looks out the window): Superman. What he must have gone through, huh?
CLARK: Hey, Lois, this asteroid was no picnic for me, either.
LOIS: Clark, please. Superman put it all on the line, not just once, but twice. You, you fell into some garbage cans in the dark. No offense, but I don't think you can put yourself in the same league with him.
CLARK: Whatever you say, Lois. Whatever you say.
Lois saved her file and looked across at Clark under her lashes. She'd seen the way his face had fallen when she'd made that crack about him not being in the same league as Superman. And, manfully as he'd tried to hide it under a cheerful smile, she'd also seen how his face had changed when she told him she loved him like a brother.
And she'd watched out of the corner of her eye as he'd sat at his desk all day looking tired and disheartened, clearly not sharing in the festive mood holding sway amongst the rest of the Planet staff.
In spite of her best efforts, she was feeling guilty.
Making a sudden decision, she stood up and strolled over to Clark's desk. When he looked up, she smiled brightly at him. "We shouldn't be working late on a day like today. Care to walk me home?"
His eyes grew wary, and she felt another stab of guilt; but he smiled in return and rose to fetch his coat. "Sure."
Clark had found the day an almost unbearable anticlimax. Everyone around him was celebrating their last-minute reprieve from what had seemed like certain death, and he knew that he should take pride in the fact that, once again, he had been able to use his extraordinary abilities for good; yet Lois's jeering words seemed to have sucked all the joy from his day. At one level he was deeply grateful for her help in finding his lost identity, and he knew that he himself was responsible for the deception that kept Lois from recognising his true contribution to the day's events. But at another level, he was just as deeply hurt by her laughing dismissal of his suffering over the last few days. He felt as though the precious gift of her love had been dangled before him and then snatched away. A part of him was even finding a kind of angry pleasure in the fact that she was, in all innocence, making a total fool of herself.
As they left the Planet building Lois linked her arm companionably with his, and they walked for a time in silence, Clark brooding darkly over the impassable chasm between the simple friendship Lois was offering and the far closer relationship he yearned for.
Finally, as they turned into Carter Avenue, Lois spoke. "Clark, I owe you an apology," she said in a low voice. "I shouldn't have made that crack about you and Superman."
Clark's steps slowed in surprise, and she halted and turned to face him. "I can only imagine how hard these last few days have been for you — losing your identity, having to work out from scratch who you are, who to trust…"
Clark stared at her, speechless. Once again, his partner had managed to take him completely by surprise, showing her fundamental generosity of spirit. Suddenly he felt deeply ashamed of the spiteful thoughts he'd been having.
"Lois, you don't have to apologise," he said, squirming slightly. "You went out of your way to help me… if you hadn't been there for me, it would have been much worse."
He continued walking, and Lois fell into step beside him. His conscience was berating him. Lois had shown herself a true friend, and he was repaying her with deceit. He knew now that she didn't love him for himself — not the way he wanted her to — so what was the purpose of continuing to hide his identity from her? He could trust her to keep his secret — at least, he thought he could — and if she'd known it earlier, she could have done so much more for him when he had lost his memory.
They reached the steps of Lois's apartment building, and Clark came to a decision. "Lois, can I come up with you? There's something I want to talk to you about…"
Lois watched her partner stride up and down her living room, clearly at a loss to know how to begin. Of all the possible reactions to her apology, embarrassment was the last thing she would have expected from him. Now there was something he wanted to tell her… she just hoped she wasn't about to hear a passionate declaration of love.
"Clark, whatever it is, just spit it out," she recommended.
He halted and turned to face her. "Lois, if you knew a secret about Superman — something very private, that nobody else knew — what would you do about it?"
Lois stared at him, her mind racing. She knew the two men had a close relationship, but what could Clark know about Superman that he hadn't told her? And why was it an issue now? Did Clark know where Superman had been when he'd disappeared?
"Would you print it?" Clark insisted. "If it would get you your Pulitzer?"
Lois frowned anxiously. "Don't do it, Clark," she advised. "Perry would have a fit if he heard me say this, but there are things that are more important than the story — and friendship is one of them. Besides, Superman does so much for us — he deserves some privacy."
Clark's shoulders relaxed a trifle. "What about your friends? Would you tell… Luthor, for example?"
Lois bridled. "Not if it was private. Where's this going, Clark? If you're going to start in on Lex again…"
He shook his head, grimacing. "No, I didn't mean… I just had to be sure." He took another turn around the room and stopped again. "Lois, there's something I need to tell you —"
"Wait a minute — you want to tell me some secret about Superman?" she interrupted hastily. "I thought we'd just established that one shouldn't tell even one's friends about something private. If Superman wants me to know, he can tell me himself."
To her surprise, Clark broke into soft laughter. "I guess that could be arranged," he said, still grinning.
"Oh, you're just going to conjure him up, and he'll decide to tell me?" she said, nettled.
He threw her a quick glance that was half amused exasperation, half apology. Then he began to spin on the spot, becoming a multi-coloured whirlwind. When the whirlwind slowed and stopped, Superman stood before her, arms folded, cape swirling gently about his ankles.
The seconds lengthened, and Lois was still staring at him with eyes like saucers, not saying a word. She seemed to have lost the ability to breathe.
Clark felt his nerves tightening. He was conscious as never before of the way the tight Suit outlined his every muscle. If Lois so much as let her gaze drop, he thought he would probably die of embarrassment. And as for her crush on his alter ego… he hoped she wasn't going to insult his intelligence by flinging herself at him.
Lois finally drew a long, sobbing breath and closed her eyes. She covered her face with her hands and sank forward as if she could hide herself in her own lap. "Oh, my god — I'm so embarrassed…" she whispered.
Clark cleared his throat. "I guess that makes two of us," he said quietly.
Lois sat up slowly and looked at him from behind her hands. As she took in his obvious sincerity her face cleared, and the two of them smiled tentatively at each other.
… for now <g>
(c) Copyright 2002, Meredith Knight\n\n