By Kaethel <Kaethel@wanadoo.fr>
Submitted: April 2002
I know this particular scene has been rewritten about a zillion times, but I hadn't given it a try yet, so here's my take on the famous date. :) I've been in quite a sappy mood for the past few days, so this kind of reflects it. A special warning is required for our beloved Tank in case he reads this: beware of the diabetic coma. <eg>
Many thanks to my beta-readers Wendy Richards and LabRat for their ever-so-helpful suggestions and support, to Wendy for giving me ideas for the title, to the #loisclark FoLCs for letting me take a short break on my math paper this evening and helping me with some last minute edits, to the boards and list readers for their encouraging comments and to Tricia for being such a great GE. :)
Feedback is very welcome at Kaethel@wanadoo.fr
It had been a very bad idea. Lois had known, right from the start, that letting Clark take her out on a date, a *real* date, one where there'd be expectations and possibly drastic changes in their relationship, was the worst idea she could possibly have. But she hadn't been able to resist. Somehow, his boyish charm, his beautiful smile and his deep brown eyes had made the decision for her, and before she knew what was happening, she'd agreed to go out with him.
And where had it led her? Right here, in the hallway of her apartment building, fiddling with her keys and slowing down her steps in a desperate attempt to delay the moment of truth. He was walking close behind her, his body heat radiating through her back despite the lack of physical contact, and in two seconds he'd expect her to turn around and tell him…something. Or do something. She wasn't sure she wanted to contemplate what either of the 'somethings' could be.
Should she invite him in for a few minutes? Would he interpret it as more than she'd bargained for? What *had* she bargained for anyway? She had no idea how far she wanted to go with him, if anywhere, and…and the tension was driving her crazy.
What a great, *wonderful* idea it had been to let out that really stupid comment about people being their true self when they make love, anyway! She couldn't have had worse timing. Of course, it'd have been hard to watch what she was saying; she was so used to being honest and straightforward with Clark that it hadn't occurred to her to close her mouth this time.
Damn him for making her feel so comfortable!
Now though, she felt anything but comfortable. The ride back home had been mostly silent; she'd looked out the window stubbornly, catching Clark watching her from the corner of her eye. But she wouldn't glance back at him. She knew what would happen if she did, and she wasn't quite sure she was ready for this.
Okay. The door was here. She inserted her key into the lock and pushed it open, then, taking a deep breath that did very little to calm the butterflies fluttering in her stomach, she turned around to face Clark. His smile was tense, and she castigated herself for making him feel as nervous as she was. She took a careful breath, gathering what little courage she'd left to speak.
"Well…" she started awkwardly, the hoarse sound of her voice sounding almost alien to her. Clark's eyes lit up with a gleam of hope, and she forced herself to go on. "I had a really nice time tonight."
"Me too." His reply was husky, and she briefly closed her eyes, trying her best not to duck her head and blush at the dozen images pouring through her mind.
"No, I mean a *really* nice time. Maybe the best time I've ever had. It wasn't the funniest…or the wildest —"
"Don't knock yourself out, Lois." His eyes twinkled, his gentle teasing reminiscent of the safety of their friendship, and she found herself smiling shyly.
"But everything seemed to just…*work*." She watched him hold back a gasp as she let out the word, and her breathing accelerated. "It was magic, Clark."
Oh…God. Had she really said that? Had she really…oh…dear Lord…
She fought the urge to run into the safe haven of her apartment and slam the door in his face. It'd be much easier to bury her head in the sand, forget the whole evening had ever happened. Forget that *Clark* existed. She could move to another place, another city, find a new job, take on a new name, and never hear from him again. It wouldn't be that bad, would it? At least she wouldn't have to face her partner and best friend and…and maybe more.
No! Not more! Definitely not more. She didn't want this to happen. She didn't want him to close the distance between them and —
Her thoughts faltered as Clark's gaze on her became more intense, and she caught her breath, not daring to move as he took a careful step closer. He was going to kiss her. It was written all over his face, in the gentle rise and fall of his chest, in the hammering sound of her own heartbeat, in the irresistible pull of her eyelids fluttering shut and —
"Would you like to come in? For…for coffee that is?"
Clark's eyes popped open at Lois's question, and it took him a few seconds to regain his bearings. He'd expected a number of things as an outcome to their date: she could tell him they'd had a nice time but she'd rather keep things at a level of friendship; she could give the usual excuse of him being her best friend, and how she didn't want to jeopardize a relationship that was very dear to her; she could leave things as they currently were, more undefined than they'd ever been, and leave them to sort out the jumble of their feelings some other time. Or never.
Instead, she'd told him…she'd told him it was magic. Magic.
He'd taken this as his cue to kiss her. What had gotten into him, he didn't know, but her positive judgment of their date had fueled him with a courage bordering on boldness, and he'd approached her, bending his head to capture her lips in what he was sure would be the most intense experience of his life.
This was when things had started not to make any sense anymore. Lois was asking him to come in. And yet it felt very much like she'd only spoken to avoid a moment he'd been dreaming about since he'd met her. But if she didn't want him to kiss her, why hadn't she simply pulled away and waved him goodnight? Why had she invited him in? Besides coffee, that was.
Somewhere in the recesses of his mind, a careful thought tiptoed, but he squashed it admonishingly. He'd never subscribed to that disingenuous equation that 'coffee' had to be a euphemism for something else, and he wouldn't start now.
He followed her inside silently, pushing the door closed behind him and observing her as she shrugged off her light jacket and draped it over the back of a chair. Clark stood where he was, unsure of his next move but unable to prevent his eyes from roaming her body with desire.
She wasn't unaware of his gaze on her, he realized with a start. Her hands were trembling as she prepared the beverage, and her cheeks were tinted in a rosy pink that she couldn't conceal beneath the frame of her hair. He cursed inwardly, scolding himself for making her uncomfortable. It wasn't supposed to be like this! There should be no awkwardness between them, nothing to frighten her. Whatever magic had sparkled between them throughout the evening was long gone, and maybe it would be better if he just —
She looked up sharply, and he winced at the wariness in her eyes.
"It's been a long night," he said softly, swallowing the lump that rose in his throat as he conceded his defeat. "I think I'll just…" He pointed to the door behind him. "I'll see you tomorrow at work."
He started to turn away, reaching for the handle, but her throaty whisper froze him into place.
He faced Lois again, his heartbeat increasing wildly as she dumped the mugs to the counter and joined him near the door. "No?"
"I don't want you to leave, Clark."
Whatever had possessed her not to let him walk out of her lif—apartment? It would have been much easier, but in typical Lois Lane fashion, she'd had to jump before thinking. It had been instinctive. When he'd announced his intention to call it a night, her heart had clenched, and her fear of their changing relationship had paled in comparison with the prospect of finding herself alone with the certainty that she'd hurt Clark.
And that she was hurting herself as well.
She didn't want him to go. She didn't want the night to end, and her sudden need to be with him could scare her all it wanted; it didn't alter her feelings on the matter.
"I don't want you to leave," she repeated hoarsely, as much for her own benefit as for Clark's.
When he kept his eyes fixed on the floor and showed no sign of closing the distance between them, she took it upon herself to reach for his hand; her fingers barely touched his, but it was enough to snap his attention back to her.
"Clark…you mean a lot to me," she started, her voice trembling. Her best friend's face immediately fell, and she mentally kicked herself for how stupid she sounded. "No, wait," she added, hurrying on to reassure him. "I don't want us to go…back. But this is new, so very new, and I have no idea what we're doing here, and I'm not sure where this is going, and well…" She took a deep breath that failed to ease the tension coiling in the pit of her belly. "I don't want to lose you, Clark."
The words were barely out of her mouth when she was pulled into the circle of his arms. He hugged her fiercely, cradling her head against his chest and letting out a sigh, the significance of which she couldn't pinpoint. Relief? Fear? Disappointment? Who cared when she was enfolded in his warm embrace, when he was soothingly rocking their clasped bodies together, when he was dropping a tender kiss on her forehead, her temple, her cheek…
She raised her head, blindly seeking his mouth and sealing her lips to his in a kiss that seemed to startle him as much as it had her. He pulled away, and she felt him hesitate for a mere second before he lowered his head to hers again, brushing his lips against hers, tentatively at first, then more firmly as she responded.
She was lost in his kiss, sensations exploding through her as his lips caressed and tantalized, triggering shivers of delight down the length of her spine. Her hands slid up his chest to hook around his neck and pull him closer. She parted her lips, encouraging him to deepen the kiss, and her knees went weak when his tongue touched hers. She melted into his touch, grateful for the support of his arms as they firmly held her against him.
They'd already kissed, but always been under the pretence of protecting their cover or fooling the bad guys. It had never been the sign of a new step in their relationship, like it was now. It had never felt so good. So right. Being in Clark's arms, feeling his lips caress hers so softly and passionately, awakened feelings she hadn't dared contemplate for months, and her fear returned, forcing her to pull away.
Her partner let out a disapproving moan as she broke off the kiss, and she joined her lips to his one more time, unable to resist the temptation of his tender caress.
"Lois…" he groaned when they parted, and she fought the urge to close the distance between them again and explore this new turn of events more thoroughly.
But they needed to talk, and they'd do just that. Talk. She cleared her throat, shaking off the cloudy haze in her mind, and slid her hands down his arms to lace her fingers with his in a gesture that was still intimate, but much safer than her previous position. Being pressed close to Clark's chest had its advantages, but it wasn't the best way to keep a clear head.
"Clark, what are we gonna do?"
Her question seemed to take him by surprise, for his eyes snapped open, and his mouth quirked in a small smile. "Well…I thought we'd solved that one," he said suggestively, wiggling his eyebrows at her.
"I'm serious," she replied, her nervous voice betraying her frustration. "Don't get me wrong, this…what's happening between us is…well, it's great, but…" She let out a short sigh and looked into his eyes, whispering intensely, "What if it doesn't work out?"
He'd known this particular concern had been on her mind all along. It wasn't him that she was frightened of—after all, she knew him enough to be sure that he wouldn't expect more from their first date than what she was ready to give him. And if she'd said it worked, she meant it; Lois Lane wasn't the kind to skirt around the truth with complimentary lies just so she didn't hurt him.
Oh yes, it was working. It was working so well that she was scared, terrified even, of what fate had in store for them.
Kissing her had been wonderful, matching all of his wildest fantasies and more. When she'd responded to his kiss with more eagerness and passion than he'd ever hoped for, he'd felt his heart soar with delight and love for the woman in his arms. He could have spent the rest of the night kissing her and exploring this new feeling, but the concern in Lois's eyes was genuine.
"Lois, when I first asked you out, I made you a promise," he began, doing his best to hide the trembling of his voice. "I will hold to it, I swear."
She shook her head softly. "Like you could go back to being my best friend after…this?" She gestured between them in a self-conscious reference to the passionate kisses they'd just shared.
"If it was what you wanted, I would do my best to…forget." God. It was so hard to imagine going back to loving Lois from a distance, to conceal the longing glances he sometimes gave her when she was concentrating on her screen and paying no attention to him. "My feelings for you will never change, but I would try to —"
"Neither will mine."
"— keep them to mys — w-what?" What had she said? Had he heard…
"I said, neither will mine."
He stared at her blankly, unable to process her words and comprehend their meaning. She couldn't possibly say that…that she had…*feelings* for him. Could she?
Wait a minute, what kind of feelings? Was she saying that she just wanted to be friends? That she could never fall in love with him? Was his worst nightmare suddenly coming true, shattering his hopes and cruelly squeezing his heart?
"My feelings for you won't change, Clark. I don't know how or why it happened, but I don't want us to be just friends. I want more. I need more." Her voice was so low that he had to strain to hear it, and her whispered confession made his breath catch in his throat. "I think," she continued, apparently oblivious to his struggle to come to terms with her revelations, "what I'm saying here is that I *want* this to work. But I don't want to risk our friendship over a fleeting attraction."
He couldn't help himself this time. Pulling her to him in a quick move, he swiftly covered her lips with his, kissing her with the same passion that had devoured them earlier. "Is that what this is for you, Lois?" he gasped when he released her. "A fleeting attraction?"
No, it was definitely *not* just a fleeting attraction, Lois realized as she slowly shook her head in answer to Clark's question.
Her best friend was gorgeous; his kisses drove her to the brink of ecstasy, but there was much more than physical desire between them. When he hugged her to him, wrapping his arms around her and pulling her hard against him, she felt safe and cherished, and she never wanted to let him go. When he'd suggested he left earlier, panic had risen in her, as though letting him walk out, leaving things unsolved, was far worse than dealing with her fears.
It was probably time she faced the truth. Lois Lane was falling hopelessly, desperately, in love with her partner, and denying it any longer wouldn't change feelings she'd harbored for quite some time and had vainly tried to ignore.
"Lois," Clark spoke up after a moment, making her look up at his concerned face. "Whatever happens between us, we're still the same people. I'm still Clark, your corny best friend from Kansas who doesn't know the rules of big city life."
She smiled at his self-deprecating description. "You're not corny. And you're starting to be good at that big city life thing. At least you don't leave your door unlocked anymore, thank God!"
He laughed with her, and some of the tension making her muscles ache lifted. She placed her hands on his waist, pulling him to her.
Clark reached up to tuck a strand of hair behind her ear. "Look, Lois, I know this is quite a step, but you and I are *still* friends. No matter what happens. And when I do this…" He kissed her gently, his lips lingering on hers for a second. "I still think of you as the best friend I could ever hope for. This will never change."
"You say this now, but if it doesn't work and we break up — -" His finger on her lips stopped her short.
"Hey…why do you think it won't work?"
She shrugged helplessly. It was a good question in fact, but one to which she had no answer, except her own past experiences. But did they really count?
She knew how different her relationship with Clark was; she'd never had a close friendship with her previous boyfriends, for a start. She'd never trusted them the way she trusted Clark; in fact, they hadn't stuck around long enough for her to really know them. And now, as she met her best friend's steady gaze, she knew that whatever happened between them wouldn't be similar to the federal disasters she'd faced in the past.
"Lois, I know you need time," he said earnestly. "I love you, and I'll wait for you."
She rested her head against his chest, feeling strangely relieved at the sincerity of his words and, much to her own surprise, not threatened by the intensity of his feelings for her. It wasn't like Clark's love for her was such a big revelation, but she'd always thought that hearing him say the three scary words would make her want to run away.
Instead, she was snuggling closer to him, and when he wrapped his arms around her again she felt happier than she'd ever been, reveling in his closeness and the connection that seemed to link them. And she knew he meant his reassurance, that it wasn't just another line meant only to lull her into a false sense of security.
She looked into his eyes, amazed at the tenderness and unconditional love displayed in their depths, and she knew beyond a shadow of doubt that the fears that had always been part of her relationships until then were superfluous with Clark. She didn't need to respond to his declaration of love; she didn't have to worry about watching him walk out of her life because she couldn't give him what he wanted. Whatever she was ready for was enough.
The trust that her heart placed in him pushed her to overcome her skittishness, and she shifted, her hands framing his face and pulling him down for another searing kiss. His lips moved leisurely over hers, tender and undemanding, and she found herself surrendering to their soft pressure.
And as she let herself be pulled into a haze of love and warmth, the fears she'd clutched in her heart slipped away, freeing her at last.