By Jana L. Officer <4EverLnC@journalist.com>
Submitted: February 2002
Summary: Lois had made an important decision which could change her life forever. Does she have enough resolve to see it through?
This is for Kelly, my *super* friend who indirectly gave me the idea. Who'd have thought the two of us would end up loving the show we wanted so much to hate? This is also for all those people I know who believe in self- determination over fate.
Author's Note: Special thanks to Annie, Carol, Lote, and Richard who acted as my betareaders. This is set sometime after 'Metallo,' but before 'Lucky Leon'. Feedback is always very welcome to me at 4EverLnC@journalist.com
It was late, and Lois knew she should be sleeping, but all she could do was stare into space. Today had been one of those days, and she simply hadn't been able to keep her mind on the story she was working on with Clark. He hadn't seemed to notice that she was distracted, or if he had, he had been wise enough to not say anything. It wasn't like she would have been able to talk to him about what was bothering her anyway — he was part of the problem.
Lois couldn't remember when she had started this latest round of worrying about her relationship with Clark. It was probably when Superman had told her how brave she had been in rescuing Clark from the Vales and Johnny Corbin.
A couple days earlier, Perry had been spinning one of his Elvis yarns. Everyone in the news room had heard them all a million times, and by now, Lois didn't really pay full attention; no one did. This time was no different. Her mind had been wandering to Clark and how happy she was that he was okay. She was brought back to the present by Perry, who was winding down.
"See, that was the thing about the King. He made his own way. He knew that if he didn't, his window of opportunity would just disappear."
Perry had clapped his hands together in illustration of the disappearing window. It had been innocent enough, but it had started Lois thinking.
Now, days later, she was still thinking about it. As she lay tossing in bed, her mind flew off on an endless tangent that normally would have been spoken aloud. However, she didn't really have an ear to bend on this one. She tried to coordinate her thoughts and align them in her mind, but wasn't really used to listening when her mind did this. Usually, Clark listened, laughter dancing in his eyes, while she let the words cascade out her mouth until she felt better. She had such a great relationship with him, undefined, but great.
"Undefined, that's the problem right there."
Lois stared out into the darkness, half waiting for some sort of response, but got none. She had never given the subject of romance much thought. Sure she dated, but her social life had never been her first priority. Now though, throughout the day, disturbing thoughts had been poking into her consciousness. Was it possible to meet the right person and have it not work out? What if two people who were just perfect for each other missed their chance because neither took the initiative? Did the window of opportunity close in situations like this? Could you run out of time?
Unfortunately, Lois already knew the answer to the last question. It was possible to run out of time. That much had been proven true when Dillinger shot Clark. The thought of daily life without him had been too much for her. The short time when Clark was "dead" had been a nightmare for Lois and had forced her to reexamine many things. It was then that she had begun to realize how deep her feelings ran for Clark; much deeper than just friendship. When Corbin kidnapped Clark, all those emotions had resurfaced.
That night, after Clark was safe and sound, Lois had admitted to Superman that there wasn't anything she wouldn't do for Clark. It was the closest she had come to telling anyone how she felt about him. In her eyes, the fact that she told Superman, the man she had always thought she was in love with, spoke volumes. At some point, without realizing it, she had given up her Superman fantasy. Whether it had been gradual or all at once, she didn't really know.
But somehow, Clark had taken Superman's place in her dreams. The problem was that the idea of a relationship with Clark was a little scary. The dream of being with Superman had felt safe because it had been just that, a dream. It wasn't something that was likely to happen, no matter how much she deluded herself into thinking it was.
With Clark, it was a different story. There was a definite possibility of a romantic relationship with him. This fact made it scary. Dating him would mean risking their friendship It would be diving in without checking the water first, which made Lois hesitant. Normally, she loved taking risks and never backed down from a challenge, but the possible cost here was too high.
"We can't just dive in," she mumbled, lost in thought. "Just dive in?" Lois asked herself incredulously as she realized what she had been thinking. "How is building up to this for almost two years just diving in?"
The truth was that she had been ducking this issue for too long, and so had Clark. They had let themselves become content in the safety of their undefined relationship, not wanting to face the consequences of taking a chance. But Clark being shot had proven that nothing lasts forever. Maybe the greater risk here was in risking nothing.
Lois had made up her mind. Regardless of the risks involved, she had to talk to Clark, had to know what would happen if she told him what she was feeling. She was not willing to wait for fate and she felt it was better to take a chance than to not do so and have to live with never knowing.
Her decision made, Lois drifted off to sleep.
The next day, when Lois arrived at the Daily Planet, she headed straight for the coffee. The long night had left her groggy and she definitely needed caffeine.
It was a beautiful day outside and she felt a peace she hadn't really known since before Clark had been kidnapped. Maybe it was the weather, maybe the hot cup of coffee in her hand, or maybe it was her firm resolve. Whatever the reason, she was grateful for the warmth and feeling of security she had today.
"Morning!" she replied, looking up from her coffee cup as she walked to her desk.
Clark grinned at her from his perch on the corner of her desk. The sight of him was a little unnerving to Lois. He was wearing a crisp suit, a colorful tie, and a smile… That smile. It was amazing how many thousands of times Lois had seen it and not really given it any thought. Not just the smile either. All the little things that made Clark so unique; the things that made him Clark. She had been working side by side with him for almost two years and had stubbornly refused to recognize how amazing he really was.
"Lois?" Clark was looking at her questioningly.
"Oh, what? Sorry, Clark, I was, uh, lost in thought."
"I noticed." There was that smile again. "I was asking if you wanted a doughnut."
For the first time, Lois saw the cinnamon doughnut in Clark's outstretched hand.
"Thanks," she replied, reaching for it slowly. Taking a deep breath, she squeezed her eyes shut and tensed all her muscles, then slowly let it out as she relaxed her muscles. At two a.m., her decision had seemed obvious. But now, with Clark so close to her, Lois was having second thoughts. Whatever her newly developed feelings for him, he was still her best friend, and the idea of risking that friendship was scary, and so much more tangible now.
Clearing her mind, she decided to forge quickly ahead, before she could change her mind. "Clark, we need to talk."
Clark set his coffee cup down on Lois' desk and looked at her attentively. Something in her voice told him she didn't want to talk about the weather. "Are you going to tell me why you've been so distracted lately?"
She looked up in surprise. "I didn't know you had noticed," she said slowly.
He shrugged in response. He hadn't planned to say anything to her about that, but he had been curious. "I figured when you wanted to talk about it, you would."
Lois nodded, then took a deep breath. "Clark…"
"Lois, my office." It was a command, not a question, and it was coming from Perry. She gave Clark a helpless look.
"It's okay, go." Clark stood. "We'll talk later."
She seemed torn, but finally nodded, sending him an apologetic look before heading to Perry's office. He watched her walk away and felt an inexplicable sense of loss. Whatever Lois had wanted to discuss, it was important.
He walked over to his own desk to sit down, but then his super hearing detected the unmistakable wail of a bank alarm. Heaving a sigh, he headed for the bank.
An hour later, Clark flew back to the Planet. Hopefully, Lois wouldn't be too mad at him for taking off and they could finish their conversation from earlier.
He was walking into the building when he almost collided with Lois, who was leaving. "Clark, let's go. There's a bad accident on the interstate; Perry wants us there *now*."
"I'll meet you there. I need to um," he frantically scoured his brain for an excuse he hadn't already used once, "Talk to Perry, uh, about the bank robbery."
"Okay, I'll see you there." She was already getting into a cab. "Don't take too long!"
He watched her cab until it rounded the corner, then took off for the accident.
Once on the scene, he stayed busy. People had to be flown to the hospital, and cars needed to be moved out of the way. It was quite some time before he was able to dart away, change, and return.
"Clark, over here!" He easily spotted Lois waving to him from beside a police car. "What took you so long?"
"Oh, well, you know. Perry wanted all the details of that robbery. It took awhile to explain everything."
"Lois, we never finished talking earlier. What do you say we write this up and then grab lunch? That should give us a chance to talk."
"Okay," she smiled slowly, "I have to finish up a couple things here. I'll meet you back at the Planet?"
He nodded in affirmation and began walking away. He was scanning the area for a good spot to change into Superman when his cell phone rang.
"Hey, C.K." It was Jimmy. "Listen, there's some kind of hostage situation over at the Lexor Hotel. Chief wants you or Lois to get over there to cover that story."
"Thanks, Jimmy." Clark was immediately on his way to the hotel.
The Lexor hotel was a quick stop. It was simply a matter of grabbing the disgruntled former employee's gun and then turning him, as well as the gun, over to the police.
However, a glance at the stylish clock over the entryway told Clark he'd better hurry if he was going to be on time for lunch with Lois. As he flew away though, he saw smoke in the distance, coming from the Apollo office building.
Groaning, he realized that lunch would have to wait. So would his talk with Lois.
Clark battled with fatigue as he flew to his apartment. The fire had taken up much of the rest of his day, as well as his energy. Then, just when he had thought he could *finally* get back to the Planet and finish his talk with Lois, he had heard a police report about a little girl, Erin Moore, who had been kidnapped while she played in Centennial Park.
As he spun out of his suit and into regular clothes, he decided to call Lois. He was still wondering what she had wanted to talk about, and with the busy day news day, they hadn't even seen each other since the pile-up. She had probably left the Planet a couple hours earlier.
The Planet! Groaning, he remembered that he had left some important papers in his desk that morning. He had to go get them. He held a quick debate with himself, but decided to wait and call Lois when he got back.
Moments later, he was at the Planet, once again spinning out of the suit. He took the elevator up, and was surprised to see a lone person at a desk in the newsroom.
The figure at the desk jumped in response to his voice.
"Sorry. I'm sorry, Lois, I didn't mean to scare you."
"Clark, it's okay."
"Working on a story?" He walked over to peer at her computer screen, but there was no story open.
"Oh, I finished up the Erin Moore story an hour ago. I guess I just didn't feel like going home yet." For the first time she noticed how exhausted he looked. "Rough day?"
"Yeah," Clark paused as he thought about the people he had rescued throughout the day, and those he had been unable to rescue. That was the worst part of being Superman. He would never really get used to not being able to help.
"The pile-up was pretty bad. Then there was that fire. Good thing Superman wasn't far away; he was able to rescue almost everyone. They must've been so scared when…" His voice trailed off as his mind traveled back to the office building earlier that day. He could still taste the burning embers, could still smell the smoke, could still hear the cries for help.
"Clark," Lois reached out and touched his arm.
"You couldn't have done anything to help those people. Not even Superman can rescue everyone."
Clark felt a hollow sadness as he thought about the irony in her words. "I guess. Maybe you're right." He said it without feeling, without conviction.
"It's true. And the day ended on a high note; Erin Moore is safe at home tonight thanks to Superman and all the other people who searched for her today."
He smiled at the memory of the Moore family's tearful reunion. "And her kidnapper is in jail. That situation turned out well."
Lois smiled at him. The simple action warmed him and erased some of the weariness he felt. She stared for moment at her computer screen, then sighed softly. "Clark, I'm going home now. Did you want a ride?"
"Actually, we never finished our conversation from this morning. You wanted to talk, remember?"
"Oh!" He tried to read the look that flashed across her face, but it was gone too quickly. "It's been a long day Clark, especially for you. We can talk tomorrow, really."
She stood up to leave, but he put his hand on hers to stop her. He didn't want to let this go. Something had obviously been bothering Lois the last few days, and now that she was ready to talk about it he wanted to do so before she could change her mind. He shook his head, and met her eyes.
"Let's talk now Lois. I don't feel like going home yet anyway."
"Um, okay, I guess." She smiled shyly at Clark as she slid back into her chair.
"So?" He moved to sit on her desk. Lois looked as if she was starting to speak several times, then sighed. "Oh, Clark! This seemed so much easier last night."
"Is everything okay?" He felt concern gnawing at him. She seemed nervous, even uncomfortable, and for Lois, that was unusual.
"Oh yeah," she answered quickly, a little too quickly. "It's just, well… I've been thinking. Do you think it's possible to have a great opportunity just pass you by because you don't seize the day, so to speak?"
He gave her question careful thought before forming a reply. "Maybe, but for the most part I believe that what is meant to happen, happens. Somehow things work out the way they were meant to work out."
"Clark, that's beautiful!" Lois' face lit up momentarily at his answer, then regained a worried expression.
"But I do think it's possible to miss your chance. I don't want that to happen to us."
"Us?" He felt confused.
"Clark, we have a great relationship; you're my best friend and I don't know what I'd do without you."
He was beginning to feel nervous. "Lois…"
"Wait Clark. Let me finish, please." He nodded in response, trying to ignore the churning in his stomach. "As great as our friendship is, I think that we could have something more. We just don't because we're both too scared to take a chance. I think it's about time we stop being scared and start being honest with each other."
He couldn't believe what he was hearing. For almost two years, he had worked with Lois, had been her partner, friend, and confidante. He had loved her from the beginning, but rarely let himself believe they would become more than friends. For the most part, he had kept his feelings closely guarded; he didn't want to risk scaring Lois away.
Now though, she was telling him that they both needed to stop being scared. Had he been scared? He had never really thought that, but he had. It took Lois facing her fears to make him realize it.
"The truth is if we don't take a chance, we'll never know what we could have together. And if we never know, we'll regret it."
He smiled as he recognized the beginning of a patented Lois Lane tangent.
"I don't like having regrets, Clark. I think it shows a lack of…"
She was cut off as he placed his index finger gently against her lips.
"Lois, it's okay. I know, and I agree." He moved his finger down off her lips to her chin, which he cupped in his hand.
"You do? Oh, I'm so glad. I mean, I have been so nervous about this, and I didn't know if I should say something or… I'm babbling, I know. It's just…"
"Lois?" he queried, his hand still beneath her chin.
"Hmm?" She blushed under his gaze.
He shook his head at her. There was still more for them to talk about, but they could worry about that later. "I think we've done enough talking for tonight."
With that, he bent his head and kissed her softly on the lips.