By Wendy Richards <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Submitted: May 2002
Summary: What happened after the carollers left in the episode "Season's Greedings"? A 30-Minute Episode Extension Challenge.
A 30 Minute Challenge Story: Season's Greedings
Author's Note: The 30-Minute Episode Challenges came about when I made a post to the fanfic list which said this: "I'd like to propose a new 30-minute challenge for this list. And this time the theme is: Episodes which ended too soon. ;) How often have you watched an episode and wished that the writers had given us just two more minutes? That Clark would have *had* to explain where he'd been that weekend in TEHI when Lois and Mayson were waiting for his answer? That we could have seen him walking Lois home in Witness? That we could have seen the date in IR (okay, Zoomway already did that one, but there's no reason why it can't be done again <g>). That Lois had left a message on Clark's machine in Metallo? (Anyway, you get the picture). So, in 30 minutes or less, what can you come up with as an Episode Extension?"
And they came flooding in. Within 48 hours we'd had at least 20! They're all wonderful — go and read them!
This is my own little effort. All rights in the characters of Lois and Clark belong to their various owners, and my thanks to Dean Cain for writing Season's Greedings. :)
The sound of the carollers slowly died away, and Lois gradually became aware of her surroundings once again. She was standing next to Clark, her hand in his and with her head resting on his shoulder. What was more, his head was tilted so that it rested against hers.
It was… nice.
It was warming and affectionate and loving and romantic and…
And it was a huge mistake!
She'd worked so hard to retain the necessary emotional distance between herself and Clark. Ever since that day outside the Planet when he'd insisted on speaking first and had told her that he didn't love her, she'd kept a tight grip on her feelings and ensured that she never let him imagine, for one minute, that she felt more for him than friendship. She'd faltered once when, in the aftermath of her shattering regret for all that they'd lost when she thought he'd been killed, she'd told him again — choosing her words carefully — that there might be more for them than friendship. He'd slept through that, and she'd seen it as a portent. Some things just weren't meant to be.
But this… The way they were now…
This was too risky. Any minute now, Clark — who wasn't in love with her and who was dating Mayson, of all people — was going to ask her why she'd grabbed his hand. And he'd be wondering why she'd moved so close to him and why she'd behaved as if she had a right to touch him. Of course he hadn't pushed her away; he was too much of a gentlemen for that. But he'd be wondering, and he'd be so awkward and apologetic; he'd tell her that he'd never intended for her to get the wrong idea about his feelings for her, and he'd say that he should go.
He'd go, after deliberately missing his flight to Smallville so that he could come and keep her company.
She couldn't let him do that. And, if she played it carefully, he wouldn't…
Detaching herself carefully but firmly from her partner and best friend, Lois stepped aside and fixed her brightest smile on her face.
"Okay, let's eat!"
Clark reluctantly released Lois, a feeling of shattering disappointment coursing through him. Had he imagined it? Had that feeling of… of *rightness* about what had happened been only in his own mind? They'd stood together, been close, just as if it were meant to be. The moment had been sweet and romantic, and just perfect.
And now it was over, and it was clear that Lois hadn't felt the same way about it as he had.
The magic of Christmas had disappeared.
He hesitated, looking at Lois. She was fussing with the food on the table, straightening the decorations, adjusting the cutlery. And she was avoiding looking at *him*.
She was embarrassed, obviously. After all, she didn't love him, and she didn't want him to get the wrong impression about what had just happened.
Should he leave? But that wouldn't look good; he'd come, after all, so that she wouldn't be alone on Christmas Eve, and that still applied. And he'd come as Clark because he simply hadn't been able to face any more pretence, any more time seeing the woman he loved stare starry-eyed at his alter ego.
No, he'd stay, but he needed to make sure that Lois understood that he wasn't reading anything into the situation that she hadn't intended. He'd act as if nothing had happened, in fact.
Gesturing at the table, he said cheerfully, "Looks good!"
It was excruciating. Oh, the food was okay — just — but the situation felt so horribly awkward. Clark was being so relentlessly cheerful and witty that Lois knew it had to be a put-on, and she was behaving like a grinning moron.
She couldn't take any more of it.
"Clark," she began, cutting across his umpteenth milking anecdote. "What's wrong? Why can't we talk to each another?"
To her relief, he didn't pretend not to understand what she meant. "I know," he said softly, his eyes filled with regret. "It's… I'm sorry. Should I leave?"
<No!> she wanted to yell. "Only… well, if you want to," she found herself saying.
He gave her a puzzled look, then said carefully, "I don't want to go, Lois. But I don't know what I can do… I mean, to make this right."
The only way to deal with the awkwardness of the situation, Lois realised, was for them both to get everything out in the open. Well, at least, for *Clark* to get his feelings out in the open — his obvious fear that she wanted more from him than he was willing to give. Then she could reassure him that the thought had never crossed her mind and, for the sake of a little white lie, they could relax in each other's company again.
"Clark," she began firmly. "We're best friends, right?"
"Right," he echoed, looking puzzled again.
"And best friends don't hide things from each other." Now he looked alarmed, his eyebrows shooting up into his hairline. What had she said to make him that nervous? Was he really that afraid of how she might feel about him? Well, all the more reason to do this. "Clark, I think we both need to be completely honest with the other about what's bothering us. That's the only way to deal with this."
"Uh… okay," he agreed carefully. "*Completely* honest?"
"No prevarication? No excuses?"
"And… uh… what if you're not happy about what I say, or… uh, vice versa?" he asked cautiously.
"I don't think that'll be a problem," she told him firmly. "Look, Clark, it's either that or another round of Daisy- kicks-the-milkmaid jokes!"
He laughed. "Okay. Uh… who'll go fir -"
"You," she said insistently.
"Oh, god," she heard him mutter. He swallowed a couple of times, cleared his throat, looked even more awkward, and then finally said, in a rush, "Lois, when we were standing together by the window, I never wanted that moment to end. I didn't want to let you go. I wanted… I just wished I could turn you to face me so that I could kiss you. And… I can't get the idea of kissing you out of my mind. I know you don't want me to feel that way about you, but I can't —"
She couldn't believe that she'd heard him correctly. He *wanted* to *kiss* her? *Her*? Lois Lane, his argumentative partner?
"Wait, wait!" she interrupted. "Say that again!"
"Which part?" he questioned anxiously.
"The part about… You did say you wanted to kiss me? I didn't imagine it?"
A smile was beginning to form on his face. "You didn't imagine it."
Lois gulped. It was scary… it was downright terrifying, but somehow, against all the odds, Clark *was* attracted to her. She still had questions in her mind about Mayson. And she still remembered Clark telling her that he wasn't in love with her, but right now…
Right now she had a suspicion that actions would be more effective than words.
"So what are you waiting for, partner?" she asked softly.
The instant his lips closed over hers, Lois knew that this was what she'd been waiting for all her life. He pulled her to her feet, enfolding her in his arms as they strained to get closer to each other, their kisses growing more frantic and intense.
Eventually, Clark pulled back, smiling down at her. "Listen!"
Church bells were ringing. It was midnight.
"Merry Christmas, Clark," she murmured, smiling lovingly up at him.
"Merry Christmas, Lois," he responded, and the expression in his eyes told her that he feelings were entirely returned.
Several minutes and many kisses later, Clark pulled back again, looking rumpled. "Lois, what were *you* going to confess to me?"
(c) May 2002
Wendy Richards <email@example.com>