By Kaethel <Kaethel@wanadoo.fr>
Submitted: May 2002
Summary: In the episode "Barbarians at the Planet," Clark worked up the courage to confess his feelings to Lois, only to be turned down by the woman he loved. But what if he'd thrown all caution to the wind and shown the extent of his feelings for her instead of just telling her about them?
Thanks to my wonderful BRs LabRat and Wendy Richards for their help and support, to the readers on the boards for their encouragement, and to Mela for GEing the story for the archive. :)
Feedback is very welcome at Kaethel@wanadoo.fr
"Lois…when I thought about losing my job at the Daily Planet, saying goodbye to Perry and Jimmy and everyone, I realized something."
Clark felt extremely awkward as he started what he'd thought was a well-rehearsed speech, but one that made him unable to keep his voice from trembling. He turned towards his friend as he went on, searching for strength in her encouraging gaze.
"I realized that I could lose all of that and still go on. I realized that there was really only one thing that I never wanted to live without, and that…was you." He hurried on, knowing he'd been the one who'd insisted on having this conversation in the first place. There was no turning back now. "Seeing you every day, working with you, just being with you —"
"Well that's why you should come and be my partner!" Lois exclaimed, interrupting his confession and pasting what looked like a forced smile onto her face.
"No!" He knew she was upset at him for refusing to work with her at LNN, but once he told her…once he told her, maybe she would understand. Maybe. Oh, it wasn't his reasons for refusing to be her partner at Luthor's TV network that he wanted to talk about; she was perfectly aware of those, and avoiding what had turned out to be a topic that usually turned any conversation into a fight was something they'd both silently agreed on.
No, what he wanted to talk about was the passion boiling in his blood every time she smiled at him, the way his heart made a little flip-flop whenever she touched him, the urge he could barely fight to kiss her fiercely when she hugged him.
He sneaked a careful glance at her and sighed at the expectation written on her face. But as nervous as he was, maybe getting his feelings out in the open would lift a weight off his chest. He didn't expect Lois to return them, especially when she was so obviously attracted to Superman *and* had admitted she was seriously thinking about Luthor's proposal. The possibility made Clark shudder, and he immediately chased the unwelcome thought away.
Telling Lois. This was what was important right now. This was all that mattered. Telling Lois. The rest could wait.
Unable to bear the worry darkening her beautiful eyes, he gestured for her to sit on a nearby bench and took his place beside her, holding back a shiver when her thigh brushed against his.
"Lois, listen to me. I'm not talking about *partnership*. I'm talking about us. I have been in love with you for a long time. You had to have known."
The look on her face was enough of an answer, and Clark felt his heart shatter. His parents had convinced him that confessing his feelings to Lois was the best way to know if there was any hope for them, but what none of the Kents had considered was Clark's reaction to her rejection, even though it had been the most likely outcome. Clark watched Lois stutter a few unintelligible words, a pink blush coloring her face as she lowered her eyes. She imperceptibly flinched away from him, an instinctive move that sent more pain stabbing through his chest.
"I…I knew," she started in no more than a whisper. "I mean, I guess I knew. That you liked me. That you were…attracted to me."
Her obvious avoidance of the word 'love' devastated him. His declaration hadn't just left their relationship unchanged; it had made it worse. Right now Lois was probably feeling more awkward and frightened around him than she'd ever been, and the few remnants of the friendship that had been spared by the tornado turning their lives upside down were now never to be salvaged. And all of it was his fault.
He closed his eyes as her next words hit him. He'd expected them all along, but hearing them out loud was hurting more than he'd ever thought possible.
"Clark, I'm sorry. I just don't feel that way about you. You're my best friend, and the only partner I could ever stand to work with; I admire you and I respect you, and I do love you, as a friend."
As a friend. *I mean I love you…like a brother.* Of course. As a friend, or like a brother, but never in the sense he'd always kept hoping for. Never as a potential lover. Bitterness and regret coursed through him, making his blood run cold, and suddenly he hated the relationship he'd developed with her over the past year and which had left him wanting and desperate for something that would never happen.
Only listening to a primal instinct he could never explain, he launched himself forward, wrapping a deft hand around her neck and pulling her to him. Before she could form a word of protest, his lips covered hers to steal a kiss conveying all the pent-up passion that he knew would remain unrequited for the rest of his life.
Lois's senses were drowning. The feeling of Clark's lips stroking hers was sending a heady rush down her spine, making it impossible to think beyond the realm of sensations assaulting her. She couldn't believe it was happening…it couldn't *be* happening…it wasn't happening…oh god, Clark…
At their own volition, her hands came up to frame his face, but they didn't push him away. Instead, they explored the smooth skin of his cheeks, the firm set of his jaw, the silken mass of his hair, and she sighed against his mouth as he deepened the kiss in response to her unhurried caress.
She should pull *away*. Pull away and scream, yell at him, hit him, possibly murder him with an axe or something. The guy had no shame at all! She couldn't believe his gall, kissing her so wonderfully when she'd just told him she didn't…oh, goodness…
His lips left hers for a moment to trail a moist path down her throat, and she gasped in pleasure, heedless of anyone who could see or hear them in this very public place. She'd just turned him down, for heaven's sake! He should have looked miserable, stiffened his stance, and gone away to lick his wounds, not…not kiss her so delicately and lovingly…and make her entire world spin out of control…
His mouth returned to hers, ravaging her lips with a passion that left her breathless and begging for more of his exquisite touch. His hands roamed up her back, tangling in her hair and pulling her closer, and she was lost, lost to the sensations crashing through her in waves, lost to the feelings assailing her as his kiss took her further away from reality.
When their lips finally parted, Lois knew that the desire darkening his eyes was reflected in hers, and she held his gaze as she struggled for breath. God, that had been…wow…who'd have thought…whatever had possessed her to…oh, for goodness' sake!
Clark was the first to break the connection that hadn't left them since he'd ended the kiss. He lowered his face and turned away, and she could see the hint of shame tainting his cheeks even before he spoke up with the dreaded word.
"Lois, I'm sor —"
"Don't!" Cutting him off had been instinctive, but she was unable to form a coherent thought right now, apart from the very unexpected—but not so unwelcome—desire to pursue the exploration of…of what had just happened.
He looked up at her sharply, blinking in confusion.
"Don't tell me you're sorry," she pleaded with him, automatically reaching for his hands and sighing in relief when he laced his fingers with hers. Relief?!
Yeah, she admitted to herself with a soft sigh. Relief. How it had happened, she had no idea, but Clark's kiss had cast a doubt on her certainty that she wasn't attracted to him. One heck of a doubt, too. A doubt that deserved to be lifted…by a more thorough exploration, she mentally added as a couple of wicked thoughts formed in her mind.
"But you said —"
"I said…oh, Clark, this is just so confusing!" She sighed in frustration, but went on, encouraged by his squeeze on her hands. "I don't know how I feel. I don't know how I *should* feel. I thought I was sure until a minute ago, but…"
He let out a short but tense laugh. "Well, I guess I ought to be reassured," he explained, at her perplexed look. "Considering I was expecting you to slap me for what I just did, and believe me when I say I have no idea what got into me…" She cocked her head to the side, giving him a doubtful stare. "All right, I know what got into me, but I don't know why I acted upon it."
"You acted just like any hormone-driven male," Lois commented dryly, a touch of scorn in her tone. "And don't ask me why I didn't kill you on the spot, because you certainly deserve it." He looked genuinely contrite, and the pain shining in his dark brown eyes was impossible to sustain. "All right, I might forgive you for your caveman tactics," she amended, her fingers forming air-quotes around the word, "*if* you treat me to dinner tonight."
His eyebrows shot up and almost disappeared into his hairline. "Dinner? Tonight? As in…"
"As in a date," she completed with a sultry smile, amused by the stunned look on his face. Wrapping her arms about his neck, she coaxed him closer to brush a soft kiss against his lips. Whatever was happening—and confusing the heck out of her, she added grudgingly—required further exploration before she took any decision that could alter both their lives, and if that kiss was anything to go by, she might have been wrong all along.
Only time would tell, but for now, she was content to be wrapped in his warm embrace and surrender to the kiss of her epiphany.
Kaethel@wanadoo.fr May 2002