By Tracey <email@example.com> & Kaethel <Kaethel@wanadoo.fr>
Submitted: March 2002
Summary: The quiescence of night is favorable for introspection from Lois in this Season 2 vignette — a little soul-searching that leads her to discover some truths in regard to her rocky relationship with Clark.
Just a quick note of explanation before you read this one: One evening, we were chatting on IRC about the Dixie Chicks, and we were both curious as to which song on the CD was our personal favorite. Instead of just telling each other, though, we wrote the title of our favorite song and hit 'enter' at the same time. Well, needless to say, a second later we both found out that we have yet another thing in common as the song "You Were Mine" appeared simultaneously in our respective IRC windows. Minutes later, we decided that we had to write a fic inspired by a couple of lines from this song, and this is the result. :)
Many, many thanks to LabRat, who beta-ed this so quickly— your helpful comments, edits, and encouragement were very much appreciated. :)) Thanks also to Julie Gibson, our GE, for her helpful corrections and supportive feedback. :)
All usual disclaimers apply. Lois, Clark, and all related characters are the property of DC Comics and Warner Bros. No copyright infringement intended.
This one was posted to the boards on February 18th and dedicated to our dear friend Wendy on her birthday. :) Hope you enjoy, and happy birthday!
*Sometimes I wake up crying at night And sometimes I scream out your name What right does she have to take you away when for so long you were mine?
I remember when you were mine…*
—The Dixie Chicks, 'You Were Mine'
It's strange, isn't it? The way you can sometimes pinpoint your feelings without a shadow of a doubt, knowing that you are making exactly the right decision? And then there are other times when you have no idea which way is up, your feelings so muddled and your heart so muted that nothing comes through clearly.
I definitely fall into the latter category tonight.
Outside, darkness cloaks the earth in night, and the only light in my small bedroom is a tiny bedside lamp. The mug of hot tea in my hand warms my palm, and I blow on it slightly to cool the liquid before bringing it to my lips. The soft yellow lamplight seems to fit my mood—reflective and pensive—as it falls across the bedspread and onto the hardwood floor. It's quiet around my apartment. I've even turned off the usual constant background noise of the television. For some reason, I just feel like I need some time to myself tonight, and that's unusual for me. I don't normally like to sit around and analyze the events in my life—I usually prefer to be pro-active rather than reactive.
But tonight, something is different. Tonight, I just want to think.
To me, love has always been this elusive ghost of an emotion, a whisper of a dream that filled lonely nights and wrapped tired bodies in robes of imaginary comfort. It came in the shape of a red paper heart, a long string of white pearls, or a sticky candy kiss between two teenagers on Valentine's Day.
It never used to bother me to think about love, not really, anyway. I never thought that I would be lucky enough to find it, so why bother wasting my time? Love wasn't for me, and that was just the way things were. I learned this very early in my life, and I've carried this attitude ever since.
Or tried to.
I guess I wasn't as successful at it as I wish I'd been. Whether it was the pain I felt when Claude rejected me after getting what he wanted from me—I suppose the satisfaction of getting Lois Lane into bed fulfilled his rampant libido—or the way I made such a fool of myself with Superman last year, somehow love has always managed to catch up with me at various points of my life.
Not the kind of love you usually see in fairy tales though. My experience with the feeling is closer to the weepies I've been feeding my VCR lately. Greed, power, jealousy and hurt mingle in my heart, and all in all I realize it was never worth it. So why does it bother me now?
A sigh escapes my lips of its own volition, reflecting my frustration as I take in the awkwardness that has crept into my relationship with Clark over the past few days. What does he see in Mayson Drake anyway? So what, because she's got blond—dull, actually—hair, a good shape—though "shape" might be overestimating it—and looks at him with pleading eyes, he's falling hard?
I've always hated pleading eyes anyway. It's pathetic how she throws herself at him, but worse than that, it's pitiful how he responds to the blatant batting of her eyelashes.
"Men!" The word is hissed with all the contempt I can muster, but disappointment is the prevailing emotion driving me now. Or rather, pulling me to a stop.
I'd managed to convince myself that Clark was different, that he wasn't like any of the males I'd known in the past, but these days he keeps reminding me that he's one of those. And the sweetness of my best friend isn't enough to keep the fear from returning to my mind, time and again. Fear. Yeah. I know. Could almost chuckle in derision at the ridicule of the concept, but tonight I certainly don't feel like laughing. I'm afraid to lose him. Actually, I'm afraid I've already lost him. I guess I've been taking things for granted lately. Doing my best to forget our separation during my engagem…whatever happened back then to drive us apart. Once I got him back in my life it was like nothing had ever happened. It's so stupid to try and sweep things under the carpet when you don't want to deal with them, but it's exactly what I did. Not that it would have changed anything though. Clark made it clear he didn't love me and that he'd claimed to only to prevent me from marr…making such a foolish mistake.
It didn't disappoint me. Nope, it didn't. It cut into my decision to give it a try, yes. Shrunk our relationship back into the safe haven of our well-known friendship, certainly. But it was for the best, wasn't it? At least Clark kept me from falling into the trap another time. Not that he succeeded, mind you.
In fact, there's a part of me that wonders if I've already begun to fall for him. More than just a part of me. My entire being awakens when he looks at me, pulling me into a fantasy where my Clark reaches for me and whispers sweet words of love into my ear. Entirely without guile or purpose. On a simple whim. And yeah, *my* Clark. I know. I developed a possessive streak where he's concerned lately, I'm afraid, especially since Mayson dropped into our lives. And when Clark touches me… when he touches me, I melt under the soft warmth of his hand, the tenderness of the gesture, and what it could mean if we got past the barriers erected by our friendship.
These feelings I can't control scare me. I never thought I'd be afraid of love itself, but here I am, curled up on my bed, my knees pressed close to my chest like a small child. Do you know how hard it is for me to admit to myself that there could be something deeper between Clark and I?
But it's becoming so hard to deny it any longer. Every single time I see Clark with Mayson my chest tightens with this crazy emotion that I don't want to name. Once, I saw them kiss at Clark's apartment, and I remember feeling my mouth drop open and that crazy feeling was all over me, squeezing my heart inside my chest and making it ache.
I told myself over and over that I was just surprised, that I hadn't expected to see them kissing. That was all—I was just surprised. But the way his lips clung to Mayson's, the way they pulled apart so slowly, the blissful look on Mayson's face as she kissed him—it still haunts me.
Sometimes I can imagine that it was me, not Mayson, standing there at the top of the stairs that evening, saying good night to Clark. Sometimes I let myself imagine his lips reaching down for mine, his hands in my hair, and in my make-believe scene, I find myself allowing him to bring our mouths together in a way that I would never admit to fantasizing about.
And I know what it's like to be kissed by him, and as I draw on those memories, that makes the fantasy that much more real. We've kissed several times in order to maintain a cover, but in my daydream, there's no maid rushing in with towels, no madman throwing us out of a plane. There's only Clark and I and that dangerously powerful attraction between us.
Yes, that dangerous attraction. I'm finally admitting that it exists, after almost two years of vehemently denying it. I'm admitting that there are times when I call him over to my desk to read a paragraph or two of something I've written, just so I can feel him close to me. I'm admitting that there are times that I reach up and smooth non- existent wrinkles from the back of his suit jacket, just so I can run my hands over the broad expanse of his shoulders. I'm admitting that there are times when I pretend to have a cramp in my neck, just so he'll come over and give me one of those amazing massages. I'm admitting that I love how I feel when he touches me, and I'm admitting that the thought of him doing all those things for Mayson drives me crazy.
It's not fair. Clark was mine for so long, and he always promised that he would be there for me, no matter what. There were so many times when he told me how much he cared about me and that he would always be my friend. Part of me can't believe that he has let Mayson Drake take my place in his life so quickly.
But there is another part of me that knows that it's my fault that Mayson has inserted herself into his life. I waited too long, took too much time figuring out my feelings. There was always tomorrow for that, another day, another moment for me to work out my relationship with Clark. Foolishly, I believed that I had time. Like I said before, I swept those feelings under the carpet, preferring to play it safe than to risk our friendship. It's hard for me to admit that I was wrong. But I was wrong. There is something more between us than friendship.
But now, it might be too late. Now, I've lost him. Now, even our friendship might be at stake.
What if he decides that he loves Mayson? The thought horrifies me. If she becomes his steady girlfriend, there is no way that Clark and I will be able to stay such close friends as we are now. She would never let him grab a bite to eat with me after work. We would never again order a pizza and watch movies together, then stay up talking for hours afterwards. He wouldn't be my best friend. Things would never be the same.
I can't let that happen.
In a decisive move, I sit up and swing my legs over the side of the bed, annoyed now with myself for wasting so much time tonight. I don't know yet what I'll say or what I'll do, but I do know that I can't just sit idly by and watch us fall apart. That's not Lois Lane's style. I'm going to do *something,* regardless of whether or not that's the right move.
A quick check of the clock reveals that it's just past eight-thirty. Not even bothering to change from my blue flannel pajamas, I grab a coat from the hall closet and throw it over my clothes. I snatch my car keys from the glass coffee table in the living room, slip on a pair of tennis shoes, and then I'm out the door, heading in the direction of Clark's apartment.
How the heck did I get here? I can't even remember the journey through downtown Metropolis, yet here I am, pulling my car up in front of Clark's place. Seriously, I wonder how I even made it safely to the other side of town. Weren't there a couple of red lights along the way? But never mind that. I'm here, in one piece, my driving license still in my purse, so there's no point dwelling on any danger I might have avoided en route.
I'm not sure why I decided to talk to Clark tonight…actually, strike this. I know the why, but I don't know the how. What am I gonna tell him? I doubt he'll believe me if I claim it's just a social call—you don't barge into your best friend's apartment at nine in the evening just to say hi. You're even less credible if you're wearing your pjs under a coat.
I slowly climb up the steps to his front door, doing my best to ignore the butterflies dancing in my stomach. The lights are on in his apartment, and it suddenly occurs to me that he might not be alone.
Fear clenches in my chest as images of Mayson and Clark float into my overactive mind. Does he make her feel at home? Does she know her way around his place like I do? Why is it so easy to imagine her sneaking up behind Clark and pressing her breasts against his back, wrapping her arms around his waist? Why can I see him turn around and embrace her tenderly so clearly in my mind's eye?
Why is it so painful?
Maybe it wasn't such a good idea, maybe I should just climb back into my car and go home. They say sleeping on it helps, so maybe tomorrow I'll feel brighter about my relationship with Clark and won't need to have a heart to heart with him…
I'm such a *coward*!
I'm here now, so better get it over with, whatever is waiting for me on the other side of that door. Besides, I'm a bit cold, and the coat I hurriedly put on before storming out of my apartment isn't much protection against the cool February wind.
Before I have a chance to change my mind, I knock firmly, bracing myself for the sight of Mayson Drake peering outside and asking who is disturbing the romantic dinner she's sharing with her boyfriend.
But it's not a pretty blonde who appears in front of me. Instead, Clark is standing in the doorway, smiling at me and gesturing for me to come in as if he were expecting my visit. Pushing aside the relief that invades me as I realize he wasn't with *her*, I let him guide me into his living room, only half-listening to him babbling on pleasantries.
I nod to his offer of coffee, shutting off the sarcastic voice within me that tells me I'm just jumping on any occasion to procrastinate. I'm *not* procrastinating! I'm just…preparing my plan carefully and waiting for the best occasion to put it into practice. Right. Uh-huh.
"You're strangely quiet," he says as he thrusts a mug of hot liquid to my hands. Nothing like the heady aroma of freshly brewed coffee to lift my spirits up, I muse to myself, directing the thought at that sarcastic voice which had dared to challenge my motivation.
Clark looks at my attire, as if noticing me for the first time, and frowns thoughtfully. "Why don't you take off your coat? You'll be more comfortable."
This time his eyebrows rise as if I'd just announced that Perry was quitting his job and joining the space program. "You're in a hurry?"
"No, I'm—yes!" Sounds like a perfectly reasonable explanation after all. He's not buying it, though. In less than two seconds he's gonna give me that look, the one that is usually accompanied by his trademark—
There it is. See? Knew it. He's staring at me, his eyes piercing through my soul, and I know I can't fool him. For whatever reason I still have to figure out, he can read me like an open book. He probably knows me better than I know myself, and I should have been aware that he'd see right through my act of the purposeless, friendly visit. It's not what I came here for anyway.
I give in and push my mug back on the counter. "All right. We need to talk, Clark." There. As good a start as any. I actually can't believe I sound so calm and collected. Okay, maybe not exactly calm…maybe not collected either. But determined at least. Neither of us can backpedal now, unless he suddenly remembers he's got to return a video or pick up his dry cleaning.
A look of surprise flickers on his face at my words, and my grip on the kitchen counter tightens. Will he run away? I don't think I could bear it if he did, even if it would set me straight on what our relationship means to him. If we don't sort this out, I guess I won't have to wonder any more.
But he nods wordlessly, and I watch the conflicted emotions passing over his face. I know what's on his mind. It's the same memory that has been haunting me for two days, the same fear that another attempt at a conversation with him will once again result in a fight that will drive us apart.
I still remember that scene in the conference room, and I can tell by the look on his face that he remembers, too. There've been many times during our partnership when we've argued, disagreed over a source or what our next move in an investigation would be, but rarely have we outright yelled at each other the way we did that day.
Mayson was at the heart of that argument, and even though I tried to make it sound like I was upset that Clark's feelings for Mayson might be compromising our investigation into Intergang, I was really upset about Clark's feelings for Mayson, period. I know I flew off the handle a little that day, but that was the first time that it really sunk in that I was losing Clark. I was terrified, and in usual Lois Lane fashion, I hid my fear behind defensive anger. I made accusations that day that I knew weren't true, and he fought back, finally storming out of the conference room and leaving me trembling and frightened that I'd driven him toward Mayson even more.
I can't afford another scene like that, and by the wary way he's watching me now, I know he's afraid that's just what will happen. "I don't…I don't want to fight, Clark," I promise him. "I just have some things that I want to say."
He nods, and I can see him relax a little. "Sounds kind of serious…why don't we move to the couch?" he suggests.
I nod in agreement, and we both head toward the living room, our coffee mugs in our hands. I set mine on the table in front of the couch before bending to lightly perch on the edge of one cushion. He sits down opposite me, watching me with curious eyes.
I open my mouth to try to speak, but nothing comes out. Suddenly, I don't think that I can do this. I can't sit here on my best friend's couch and tell him that I'm not sure, but I think that I feel more for him than I ever thought possible. Wringing my hands together nervously, I stand up quickly, ready to bolt for the door.
"Lois? You said you wanted to talk?"
His soft question reaches my ears, and when I look down at him, his face open and friendly as always, ready to listen to me babble on about anything and everything, I know that I can't leave here without telling him what I'm feeling. It might be the hardest conversation that I've ever had, but Clark will help me through it. If there's anyone in this world that I can talk to, it's him.
"Look, Clark, there's just…there's just no easy way to start conversations like this," I blurt out, taking a few nervous steps back and forth.
He's still watching me, his expression thoughtful. "Sometimes the easiest way is to just start with the truth, Lois. Just get whatever it is out in the open," is his quiet advice.
Right. Okay, start with the truth. Somehow I think that's easier said than done. But Clark seems to have this annoying quality of being right most of the time, so I take a deep breath, preparing myself to follow his advice.
"I didn't like seeing you kiss Mayson." The words come out on a rush of air, thrust into the silence of the room in a voice that, incredibly, seems to sound like my own. Strange, but I don't even remember actually thinking that sentence before I said it out loud.
But there's nothing I can do about that now. The words are out there, and I almost can't look at Clark, wondering how he'll react to them.
"Oh," he says, looking as if he doesn't know quite how to respond. And I can't blame him. What did I expect him to say? 'You're right, Lois, and I'm sorry. It'll never happen again because I know you don't like it'? Or maybe 'Okay, Lois, I won't ever look at her again because I know it makes you uncomfortable'? Yeah, right. I have no right to ask that of him, but I can't help it. That's still exactly what I want him to say.
He's not saying anything else, though, so I plow ahead, determined now to lay all the cards on the table, so to speak. "And I know that's kind of out-of-the-blue, but it's just that, well, I've been thinking about it lately, a lot. In these last couple of weeks our relationship has been a little…well, strained, to put it mildly, and I just can't keep going on like this, Clark. This crazy, limbo state that we're in has got to stop or it's going to drive us both to the point where we can't stand to work beside each other. And I know it's as much my fault, maybe even more my fault, than it is yours, but we can't let this happen."
I'm pacing now, up and down in the space between his television and his coffee table. He's still looking a little dazed, like he can't quite believe what I'm saying, but I can't stop to analyze whether that's a good or bad thing. "There's too much at stake here for me to let her waltz right into our lives and mess everything up. You're too important to me. In fact, I don't know anyone else in this world that knows me as well as you do…well, and still actually likes me. "But you…you put up with me even when I'm being headstrong and reckless and insensitive and inconsiderate. You listen to me even when I babble, and you somehow seem to follow my crazy leaps of logic when no one else can. You're my best friend, Clark, and I can't…" I pause, standing in front of him now, the sudden lump in my throat making it harder to speak. Swallowing hard, I close my eyes for a second, praying that I don't lose it.
Praying that I don't lose *him.* And I know now that I have to tell him that.
"…and I can't…I can't lose you, Clark. I need you," I finally finish on a whisper. "And that's the truth."
A silence follows my words, and for a moment, I just want to bury my face in my hands and tell him to forget everything that I said. I'm not used to opening up to people like that, even Clark—especially when I'm talking about him and our relationship. That's scary territory for me, and he knows it.
And just when I start to think that he's never going to say anything, he stands up, letting his half-empty mug find a resting place on the coffee table beside mine. I watch him as he rounds the table, walking towards me. I can't read the expression on his face, and that worries me.
When he reaches me, I expect him to stop and say something- -anything at this point, really. The silence is becoming unbearable for me. I need to know what he's thinking. I need him to say something.
But he doesn't. Instead his arms extend, and before I know what's happening, he's pulling me against his chest, enveloping me in a warm, strong hug.
It's the last thing I expect to happen, but the moment I feel his touch, I know that it's just the thing that I need the most. His grip is tight around me, reassuring, letting me feel his strength, and with it, the strength of the bond between us. One hand is softly caressing the middle of my back, calming me. I didn't know that I was trembling until his touch soothed the quivering of my body. My cheek rests against his shoulder, my arms around his waist. Funny, but I don't remember placing them there. There are still no words, but I no longer need them. The messages being exchanged between us now need not be spoken.
His thoughts are as clear to me as if he'd said them out loud. 'You'll never lose me, Lois,' says the soft rise-and- fall rhythm of his breathing. 'You can believe in me. You can trust me,' says the gentle sway of our embrace. 'You're special to me, and no one can ever take your place,' says the tender rub of his hand against my back.
And then there's a final message. 'I love you, Lois,' says the steady beat of his heart beside my ear, and this time, something is different. This time, I hear the words echoed against my hair, spoken aloud on a whispered sigh. "I love you, Lois."
For a brief time, I just let myself savor that feeling that washes over me as the meaning of his words seeps slowly into my mind. And at that moment, I wonder why I'd been so afraid. I wonder why I'd ignored this and run away from it and denied over and over again that it wasn't there. It had always been between us in some form. There was love and concern for each other in our partnership, love and kindness for each other in our companionship, and love and deep caring for each other in our closest friendship.
And now, there is just love. A love that, without me even being aware of it, has grown and taken root deep within me, eternally entwining me with the incredible man who now holds me in his arms. And it's time that I finally admit it.
"I love you, too, Clark," I murmur, tears welling up in my eyes.
I feel him pull away a little, and I know what's coming next. "Lois?" he asks questioningly. "Did you really say— did you mean—what I thought you said?"
I pull back, too, enough so that I can look at him through shining eyes. I simply nod.
His eyes widen, his mouth dropping open. "But—well, what I said…I thought you would just think—I mean, like a friend—that you would take it—but that's not what I really meant…I mean, I really meant it like—well, how I guess you took it—you did take it that way—"
"Clark!" I laugh out loud, pulling my hand up to clamp it over his mouth. "For heaven's sake, you're worse than me sometimes. It's a good thing I know you so well, or I would have had a hard time understanding just what it was that you were saying back there!"
He grins at me, and it's contagious. My mouth breaks into a huge smile, but this time, the tears that I've been holding back break free. "I can't believe I finally said it!" I gasp through those happy tears, and he picks me up in response, twirling me around.
And when he finally sets me down on my feet again, I'm dizzy but still elated. If someone had told me when I left work this afternoon that before the night was through, Clark and I would admit that we loved each other, I would've definitely had them placed in a mental institution. Part of me cannot seem to believe that what happened between us tonight actually *did* happen, but the other part of me knows that it has been a long time coming.
But there's still something that's bothering me, and I have to ask. "Clark, what about Mayson?"
He brings his hand up to my cheek, cupping it lightly. "I like Mayson as a friend, Lois, but it was never more than that. It was always you, even when you didn't feel the same way I did."
"Oh, Clark." I bring my hand up to cover his. "I couldn't admit it to myself, but I think that I did feel that way. In my heart, you were mine, and the thought of you and Mayson together hurt me so much."
"In my heart, you were mine, too," he says lovingly, and our eyes lock together, our faces very close.
And then it's my fantasy that's coming true, the two us standing there together, his lips reaching down and playing softly over mine. And just like in my dream, his hand burrows through my hair, caressing as his lips tease and tantalize, give and take. It's an amazingly heady rush, and I know that I'll never be able to get enough.
And I know now that I've made the right decision. And yes, I can exactly pinpoint my feelings without a shadow of a doubt—in fact, they're coming through crystal clear this time. My heart no longer muted, it's sharing all sorts of secrets with his…the greatest of which is that we've fallen in love.
firstname.lastname@example.org Kaethel@wanadoo.fr February 18th, 2001