By Kathy Brown <email@example.com>
Submitted: June 2002
Summary: At the end of the episode "House of Luthor," Clark insists on taking back his declaration of love. But Lois still has a little more to say on the subject, leaving Clark just as stunned by her words as she is by his. An "Episode Extension Challenge" vignette.
A 30-Minute (er, well, kind of) "Episode Extension Challenge: House of Luthor"
Author's Note: Well, I must admit that this took me longer than 30 minutes … over an hour, in fact, which just proves once again how slow I am compared to other writers. <g> But I can rationalize some of that by saying that part of the time was spent putting the last scene of "House of Luthor" into prose, so technically that's not *really* part of my fanfic, now is it? And then, of course, if I had just stuck to dialogue instead of trying to flesh it out with internalization … Sure, there we go, it's not my fault I went over on time, not my fault at all! <g>
But regardless of how long it took, I hope you enjoy. All comments are welcome and appreciated at the email address listed above. :)
Clark stood outside the Daily Planet building, staring up at the globe that the workers had just lifted back into place. Two short weeks ago, it seemed as if his world had fallen apart … the Daily Planet had closed after being gutted in a bombing, Lois was about to marry Lex Luthor, and Clark was fighting for his very life in a Kryptonite cage.
But as if the world had been telling him not to give up hope, now everything had changed once again. Clark had managed to escape his prison, Lex Luthor had committed suicide rather than be arrested for his crimes, Franklin Stern was reopening the Daily Planet …
And Lois Lane was back in Clark's life.
"I've never seen anything more beautiful in my life," he sighed, lowering his gaze to her.
If Lois had caught his double meaning, realizing that he was staring at her instead of the building as he'd made his confession, she didn't let it show. But as she approached him, her eyes were soft and caring. "You never gave up on us," she said earnestly. "On the Planet, on your friends. On me."
Clark fought the desire to pull her into his arms, but he couldn't keep the emotion out of his voice when he responded. "I couldn't. You've just named almost everything in the world that's precious to me."
"I don't think I've ever, *will* ever, meet anyone quite like you," Lois said softly, studying his face with a tender expression. "Clark …"
"Lois …" he echoed longingly.
"Wait, let me go first," she interjected.
Clark swallowed hard, the romantic fantasy he'd been weaving in the back of his mind instantly shattering as it suddenly occurred to him that she was about to mention their relationship. Things had been so awkward between them over the last several weeks, and their friendship had almost been completely destroyed by his confession that he was in love with her. And now they would be working together once again, side by side, every day … Clark knew he couldn't stand having Lois be uncomfortable around him, not anymore. As painful as it was to have his love unrequited, it was far more painful to know that he had ruined their friendship. He knew what he had to say, and he couldn't allow her to go first.
"No," he blurted out. "Not this time." Taking the moment her surprised expression offered to gather his thoughts, Clark quickly continued. "I'm sorry … about so many things. I wanted to bring Luthor down but I never wanted to hurt you. I never should have said anything—" He swallowed, forcing his way through the difficult memories. "— about how I felt about you. It put you in an incredibly awkward position."
"No, Clark," Lois interrupted. "I—"
Knowing he had to keep going or he would lose his nerve, Clark plowed on ahead. "The truth is, Lois," he added, forcing his voice to take on a lightness he didn't feel, "that it wasn't true. I'm not in love with you."
Lois looked stunned. "You're not?"
"I would have said anything to keep you from marrying Luthor."
"Oh," she fumbled. "Well, if that's the way you feel …"
"I want the same thing you want, Lois. I want us to be partners … and friends. Forever."
"Forever," she echoed, still looking shell-shocked.
Clark furrowed his brow slightly as he detected a note of sadness in her voice. He thought she'd be relieved at his admission, but instead she looked almost crestfallen. "What did *you* want to say?" he asked, suddenly very curious.
Lois stared at him for a moment, then gave a rueful laugh. "Nothing," she said. "Nothing at all." She laughed again, shaking her head. "Boy, can I pick 'em or can I pick 'em?" she muttered under her breath.
"Oh, nothing," she chirped, her voice almost maniacally cheerful. "I was just going to tell you that I thought maybe I had been wrong, that maybe there could be something between us, but obviously I'm still not a good judge of situations." She forced another laugh. "Boy, am I glad you went first … the last thing I need to do is humiliate myself anymore than I already have! Well, see you later, Clark." And with that, she quickly turned and rushed down the street.
Clark stared after her, stunned. Had she just said what he thought she'd said? That she had changed her mind about not having romantic feelings for him? And instead of letting her tell him that, he had just informed her that he *didn't* have those same feelings after all??
"Lois, wait!!" Jogging quickly to catch her, Clark grabbed for her elbow, stopping them both in the middle of the block. "Wait," he repeated, almost breathless.
Lois turned to him, clearly exasperated. "*What*??"
"I lied," he blurted out. "About my feelings for you. I lied."
She rolled her eyes. "Yes, I know, Clark … you already said that."
"No, no!" His words tumbled out as he tried to explain, knowing full well how crazy he sounded. "I mean, just now … I lied just now, when I said I didn't have feelings for you. I was telling the truth before!"
Lois gave a long suffering sigh. "Look, Clark, I know what you're trying to do, and I'm sure I'll probably even think it's sweet after I get done wanting to kill you, but right now, I really don't need anyone else playing mind games with me. It's OK … I'm all right … I'm not so fragile that you have to do this—."
"Lois!" he exclaimed, stopping her. "Listen to me!" He took her by the shoulders, bringing the two of them face to face. "Things have been so crazy between us ever since I told you that I loved you. I was hurt and you were uncomfortable and neither of us knew what to say anymore. So I thought that if I told you that I had made it up to stop the wedding, we could go back to being friends again. So I lied just now … in front of the Planet … so you'd be comfortable with me again."
Her eyes widened as she listened to his speech. "So you do have feelings for me?" she asked carefully.
"Yes!" he said earnestly, staring into her eyes, willing her to believe him. His confidence wavered, however, as he forced himself to ask the next question. "So … do you … have feelings … for me?"
Lois swallowed convulsively. "Well," she fumbled, "I think … maybe … I could. Or maybe … I do."
"Maybe?" he echoed.
"I mean … well, I'm not saying I'm in love with you or anything, or that I want to jump into a serious relationship right away … you have to admit, my life has kind of fallen apart recently and I'm not great relationship material in the best of circumstances, let alone having just gone through what I've gone through—"
Clark nodded solemnly as he listened to Lois launch into full babble mode.
"And, you know, just because I can't stop thinking about you doesn't mean that it would be a good idea to get together … with us working together and all—"
Completely unable to fight the urge to hold her any longer, Clark tentatively wrapped his arms around her waist, and he felt his heart skip a beat when Lois automatically raised her arms to circle his neck.
"Plus the fact that I was supposed to get married to someone else two weeks ago, and I don't want people to think that you're just a rebound guy, even though I said 'no' at the altar — not that anyone but me heard it, but I *did* — because I realized that if I was thinking of *you* the entire time I was walking up the aisle instead of Lex — not even Superman, who I *thought* I was in love with, but *you*! — that I was most definitely with the wrong person—"
Clark couldn't help but gasp in surprise, cutting her off in mid-stream. "You were thinking of *me* instead of Superman?"
"Yeah," Lois admitted with a sigh. Then she added ruefully, "It was kind of my first clue that I was pursuing the wrong guy."
"Wow," Clark whispered, staring into her eyes. "Lois, that's … that's … wow."
Lois blushed at the sincerity in his voice. "So … what happens now?" she asked in a little voice.
"Now … I think we go somewhere we can really talk."
"Oh," she whispered in surprise, her gaze flickering to his lips before moving back to his eyes. "I thought maybe now you would kiss me."
A tender smile spreading across his face, Clark lifted a hand to cup her cheek. "God, Lois, I thought you would never ask."
And as he lowered his mouth to hers, tasting the sweetness of her lips and reveling in the feel of her arms tightening around his neck, Clark knew that, indeed, his world had changed forever.
THE END :)
All comments welcome and appreciated at <firstname.lastname@example.org>. :)