By Yvonne Connell <firstname.lastname@example.org or Yvonne@lcfanfic.com>
Submitted: Feb 2003
Summary: Lois finds an original way to combat Clark's fears.
Author's Note: Many thanks to Wendy Richards for persuading me this was worth finishing and for giving me a couple of useful points for improvement.
It was the end of another long news day, and the Daily Planet newsroom was slowly beginning to empty as staff made their way home for the day. At the elevators, a small group of weary people had gathered, waiting for the next car to arrive. Not much was said, but feet were shuffling and watches were being examined. It appeared that things were not running very smoothly with the newspaper's elevators.
Lois stared impatiently up at the indicator above the doors, which stubbornly refused to budge from its position two floors above them. She'd already pressed the call button twice, but to no avail.
"What is it with these elevators today?" she exclaimed in frustration, vigorously thumbing the call button a few times in rapid succession.
"That's how they get broken in the first place," observed an irritatingly calm Clark, indicating her energetic treatment of the button.
She gave him a withering look. "They should be designed to cope with normal wear and tear." She leaned across him and thumbed the button again, ignoring his audible wince.
"I hear they've been playing up all day," said Jimmy, who was standing behind them in the queue. "Man, I'm taking the stairs if we have to wait much longer. I can't afford to be late tonight."
"Hot date, Jimmy?" enquired Clark.
"No, my landlord wants his rent tonight, or else…" Jimmy drew his finger across his throat in a clear gesture.
"Serves you right," said Lois. "I always pay my rent on time. All it takes is a little organisation."
"Gee, thanks for the sympathy, Lois," said Jimmy.
"You want to take the stairs, Lois?" suggested Clark.
Lois sighed and indicated her feet. "In these?" Honestly, men had no idea sometimes! They always got the easy deal when it came to undercover clothes — they never had to wear excruciatingly high heels, or fish-net tights, or ludicrously short black skirts with stupid white pom- poms at the back of them. As for the draughty plunge-neckline of her bodice — that was so low she'd had to dispense with a bra altogether. That wouldn't normally matter, except she was pretty sure that in reaching for her purse and shouldering it, she'd popped completely out of the bodice on one side. Thankfully, her winter coat had covered everything up! Anyway, there was no way she was struggling down four flights of stairs in these shoes. She thumbed the call button again and gave Clark a pre- emptive glare.
He raised his hands in defence. "I'm not saying anything."
Lois shot Clark a look of triumph and walked into the elevator as soon as the doors had opened. He came to stand beside her, and while they were waiting for Jimmy and three or four other people to enter, she felt him slip his hand into hers. Turning to him, she found him giving her a sultry smile. "If you had any idea what that outfit does to me…" he murmured.
Why was it that just a few simple words and a certain kind of smile were all it took from him to send her insides to mush? And why was it that this 'waiting' thing was becoming so hard? With every passing day that their wedding grew closer, it seemed like he'd do or say something that would make her want to leap on him immediately and tear all his clothes off.
Taking a calming breath to control her errant hormones, she raised her eyebrows at him. "Why Clark, I had no idea you were so tasteless," she replied with a smile.
His hand squeezed hers, and her legs went all wobbly. Mushy insides, wobbly legs — she was a wreck! Maybe it was because she'd nearly lost him at Christmas to that terrible virus. Since then, she'd felt even closer to him. More protective, too — she was aware that in the last couple of weeks since then she'd been touching him a lot more than usual, as if she was in some way making sure he was still there.
But she should drop the self-analysis, and just enjoy the anticipation, she told herself. In many ways, the 'waiting' part was a lot of fun.
"Honey, I'm sure you'd taste good in anything," he murmured even more softly.
She would have laughed, if his expression hadn't been so charged with desire. Oh, how she wanted to kiss him! But she was afraid that she'd start something she wouldn't be able to stop, which in a public elevator was not a very good idea. "Not in front of the children," she whispered, nodding at Jimmy, who was now standing just a couple of paces away inside the elevator.
Clark followed her gaze and grinned. "Actually, I think he probably knows more about it than we do," he said.
Lois laughed. "I wouldn't bet on it!"
The elevator doors closed and began to descend. At the next floor, they picked up another couple of passengers and then proceeded downwards. Lois hoped it would go straight down — her feet were aching from standing in the high heels and she wanted a quick exit into her jeep and a fast journey home to change into more comfortable clothes. Not to mention the fact of her escaped…frontage.
The elevator came to an abrupt halt, taking everyone by surprise and sending a few people staggering and clutching onto their neighbours in order to remain standing.
Lois looked at Clark. "Oh, great," she said.
He shrugged. "It'll start again in a moment, I'm sure."
They waited. And waited.
The guy closest to the control buttons pressed the ground floor button a couple of times, then when that didn't elicit any response, tried the buttons for the intervening floors. Nothing happened.
"Try the intercom," suggested someone.
He scanned the control board, found a red button labelled 'Help', and pressed it. "Hello?" he said tentatively.
"Maybe you have to hold the button down while you're talking," suggested Lois.
"It doesn't say that anywhere," he replied.
Lois gave Clark a 'give me strength' glance, then turned back to their self- nominated control panel operator with a smile to humour the gormless. "Why don't you try anyway?"
He frowned at her, as if she were suggesting he take a sledgehammer to the whole panel. She was just about to close the distance between them and throttle him before pressing the button herself when he turned back, held the button down and repeated, "Hello? Is there anyone there?"
When no response came, he tried a few more times, both with the button held down and with it released. Still no answer.
"Someone probably decided to cut the budget by sending them home at five," said someone. There were a few murmurs of agreement and general grumbling at pen-pushing upper management. Personally, Lois thought it was pretty unlikely, since the building was open twenty-four hours a day and she knew there was at least one security guard on duty all the time. Still, people liked to snipe at upper management and it wasn't worth arguing over. The facts wouldn't change, which were that they were stuck in an elevator with no way of informing anyone.
"Now what?" said Jimmy.
"I suggest we all relax and make ourselves as comfortable as we can," said Clark. "It won't be too long before someone realises it's stuck. Then they'll call the maintenance people and we'll be out of here."
Lois glanced at Clark. Come to think of it, this had to be doubly frustrating for him, because if he'd been alone, or just with her, he could have used his strength to get them out. As it was, there were too many witnesses, and they were in too confined a space for him to try anything unusual without it being immediately noticed.
And sure enough, a muscle was jumping along the side of his jaw.
"I don't suppose…?" she murmured under her breath, still hopeful that he might have thought of a way to use his powers.
He shook his head very slightly.
"Let's hope they paid the maintenance bill," said the one other woman in the elevator.
"I'm sure that wouldn't matter in an emergency," assured Clark.
The woman snorted. "Want a bet?"
"Maybe we should yell for Superman," said the man beside the control panel with a nervous laugh.
Lois felt Clark tense beside her, and squeezed his hand. Quite apart from the fact that he couldn't help, it annoyed her that people immediately thought of Superman as the quick fix for any given situation.
The woman made a derisive noise. "I doubt he'd come just for a few people stuck in an elevator."
"Actually, he would," retaliated Lois immediately, stung on Clark's behalf by the woman's cynical assessment. "He'll help anyone who's in trouble."
The woman looked her up and down. Lois refused to cringe when her gaze hit the fish-net tights and tasteless shoes. "You gonna call him, then?" said the woman. "You definitely look like you're in trouble, lady."
Now Clark was really bristling, but Lois got there first. "Not that it's any business of yours what anyone else wears," she replied sharply, "but you really shouldn't judge a package by its outward appearance."
The woman shrugged. "Whatever. You gonna call him?"
Lois shook her head. "No. We're not in any danger, so I'd rather Superman spent his time helping someone who really needed him. Wouldn't you?"
"So like I said, he wouldn't come for a few people stuck in an elevator," she concluded.
"Have you been listening to anything I've been saying?" Lois exploded. "I said he'd come if we called him-"
"Lois," interrupted Clark. "It's not worth arguing over. We could be stuck in here for a long time, so we may as well try to get along as best we can."
Lois drew herself up, turned slowly to him, and gave him the full force of her anger. "Clark, Superman's your friend, too. I can't believe you just said that."
"I'm just trying to keep things calm," he replied, eyeing the woman. "Look, why don't we all sit down?" he continued, addressing everyone. "I don't know about you, but it's been a long day and I could do with taking the weight off my feet."
Without waiting for her agreement, he slid down to the floor and looked up at her. "Lois? Those shoes can't be very comfortable."
She glared down at him, wanting to give him a piece of her mind, but conscious that she couldn't say what she really wanted to say while everyone else was listening. Meanwhile, he offered up a hand to help her sit. Giving him a final glare, she sank down beside him.
"Sometimes you are too darned mild for your own good," she grumbled.
"I prefer to think of it as pragmatic," he replied with a smile. He glanced up at Jimmy. "You going to join us, Jimmy?"
"Uh, sure," said Jimmy, sliding glumly down the wall to the carpet. "Man, my landlord's going to kill me," he added gloomily.
Within a couple of moments, the remaining four occupants had also seated themselves on the floor of the elevator, mostly with their backs to the wall and with their legs stretched out in front of them.
"So," said the control panel man brightly, looking around the small group, "anyone know any good word games?"
Thirty minutes later:
Clark leant his head back against the wall, closed his eyes, and tried to ignore the gnawing sense of unease in the pit of his stomach. He didn't understand what was happening to him, but he definitely didn't feel right. He wasn't sick, he was sure of that. He just felt…
Logically, he told himself, they weren't in any danger — certainly, he himself was in no danger whatsoever, and he could be reasonably confident he could protect Lois in most emergency situations. But that was only logically. The illogical part of him, the part which was demanding greater and greater attention, was telling him that this was an awfully small space for seven adults to exist in. Not only that, but it seemed smaller with every passing minute.
And what exactly had gone wrong with the elevator mechanism? Was the cable caught somewhere, and if so, was the machinery trying to dislodge it — and in so doing, wearing it away? Might they suddenly be plunging unchecked down four stories of the lift shaft?
He'd been listening out for sounds of the engineers arriving, but so far all he'd heard were a lot of frustrated people waiting for the one remaining elevator which was still operational. Surely it shouldn't take too much longer for the maintenance crew to arrive?
There didn't seem to be enough ventilation, either. He didn't suppose elevator engineers included proper ventilation in their designs — it wasn't usually required, after all.
He reached up to loosen his tie and undo the top button of his shirt. That was better.
Jimmy's voice dragged his attention away from his inner turmoil. He opened his eyes. "Yeah?"
"It's your turn. I spy with my little eye…"
Clark sighed. "Oh, yeah." He glanced around, noting once again how small the elevator appeared. Seven adults, all dressed in their outside clothes and sprawled on the floor, didn't seem to leave much carpet space uncovered. "Um…"
His eyes landed on the elevator doors, and suddenly he couldn't sit around any longer waiting to be rescued. "Look, maybe we can force the doors open. Part of the elevator might be opposite the outer doors, and then we could scramble out," he said, leaping up. "Come on, Jimmy, let's give it a try."
"What if you break something?" said panel control man. "You might make things worse."
"What's worse than being stuck here?" said Jimmy, standing up to join Clark at the doors.
"Turning into strawberry jam at the bottom of this lift shaft," answered the woman.
"I hardly think forcing the doors open is going to make the elevator crash," said Lois. "Go on, Clark, give it a try."
Clark nodded and applied his fingers to the narrow edge of one of the doors. He had to make this look good…
A few minutes, and several faked gasps of effort later, he was holding one of the doors open. A blank concrete wall faced them from floor to ceiling. His heart sinking, he nevertheless called for Jimmy to squint up the outside of the door. "Any way we could squeeze up the outside and reach the outer doors?"
Jimmy took a good look while Clark held the door open with the pretence of considerable effort. "Nope," he said after a few moments of close study. "There's not even enough clearance for a small kid, never mind any of us."
Clark sighed heavily and warned Jimmy to move away while he let the door shut itself again. No immediate hope of escape, then.
He'd already checked the ceiling for an escape hatch, but he did so again. Alas, unlike countless movies he'd watched, there was no sign of any opening.
"Let's hope you haven't broken anything," fretted the man who'd been working the control panel
"I doubt it," replied Clark heavily, retaking his place on the floor beside Lois. He tugged at his tie and rested his head back against the wall again with his eyes closed. This was crazy. Here he was, the strongest man in the world, and he couldn't get seven people out of a stuck elevator. A very warm and airless stuck elevator.
How much longer were those maintenance crews going to take?
One hour later:
Lois looked up from her watch and glanced around the elevator. Conversation had died completely, and everyone appeared to have withdrawn into their own private world. Panel man was sitting with his knees curled up against his chest, and was tapping away at his PDA with a stylus. The sarcastic woman was reading a tabloid paper while not-so-discreetly trying to extract something from between her front teeth. One of the two remaining men appeared to be dozing, while the other had extracted some typewritten documents from his briefcase and was reading intently. Jimmy had headphones in his ears and was nodding away to some thankfully inaudible rock music.
Clark, strangely, appeared to be the least relaxed of them all. No doubt he was frustrated by his inability to make use of his strength, but that didn't wholly explain the tension she could sense coming off him in waves. Neither did it explain why he kept tugging at his collar. Long gone was the man who earlier had clearly been suffering as badly as she from 'waiting' syndrome!
She stretched out an arm and laid it across his shoulders, intending to ask quietly if he was all right. To her surprise, he ducked away from her, clearly not welcoming the close contact. "What's the matter?" she murmured, carefully removing her arm.
He shrugged. "Nothing."
"I just want to get out of here," he replied quickly. "Like you."
"And we will," she said, still puzzled by his reaction. Normally, Clark was the calmest, most placid individual in a crisis. He wasn't the one who panicked or lost his cool.
She saw his eyes dart nervously around the small elevator. "Yeah," he muttered, closing his eyes again. The muscle in his jaw started jumping. "Soon, I hope."
"I know what it is, " she said in a teasing voice, attempting to lighten his mood. "You forgot to return a video, didn't you?"
Usually, her dig at his awful Superman excuses would be rewarded with a laugh, or at least a grin, but he merely flashed her a brittle grimace. "Yeah, that's it. A video." He tugged at his collar again and drew in a couple of slow, deep breaths. "Tell me, do you think they design proper ventilation systems into these things? I…I mean, usually, it wouldn't matter, would it? You get in, you get out — no need to worry about air circulation. The doors are always opening and closing. What do you think?"
She stared at him. Her normally intelligent, coherent fiancee wouldn't have asked such a preposterous question. "Clark, what are you talking about? Of course there's enough air."
"Yeah, I guess so." His eyes darted around the elevator again. "I just never noticed before how small these things are." He laughed uneasily. "Crazy, huh?"
"My guess is he's claustrophobic," piped up the guy she'd thought was snoozing. "That it, buddy? You get nervous in confined spaces?"
At first, the idea seemed crazy to Lois. Clark couldn't possibly be claustrophobic — he was Superman! Invulnerable and incredibly strong, he had no reason to be frightened if he found himself confined. He could hold his breath for 20 minutes, for heaven's sake! And he could always escape whenever he wanted to.
Except right now.
She studied him. He certainly looked extremely ill at ease. His face was pale and tense, and there was even a faint sheen of sweat on his forehead. Clark never perspired.
"Clark?" she prompted softly. "Is that right?"
"I don't know," he said. "I don't think so," he added doubtfully.
But the man's diagnosis seemed to fit the evidence in front of her. And come to think of it, hadn't Clark confessed more than once that he didn't like flying? Commercial airline flying — not his own brand of free flight. She'd always assumed that was because it seemed so slow and clumsy to him. After all, he could soar through the skies as free as a bird. Maybe, though, it also had something to do with being confined in a small aircraft cabin for a long time. Whatever, clearly Clark hadn't made the connection yet.
"That was a pretty weird question you asked me," she pointed out.
"Was it?" he replied. "I just wondered…"
He sounded scared. She reached out and rested her hand lightly over his. "Don't worry, we're all going to get out of here."
He nodded jerkily. "I know. Logically, I know that, but…" He screwed up his face into a picture of anxiety and tension. "I'd just like it to happen sooner rather than later."
"Oh, great," said a familiarly sour female voice. "I'm trapped in an elevator with a claustrophobic. Let's hope he's not one of them violent types. I read about them. They start screaming and shouting and attacking you."
"He's not going to attack anyone," said Lois angrily. "On the other hand, I might attack you if you don't keep quiet."
"Oh, yeah?" the woman replied. "What you gonna do? Gouge my eyes out with your high heels?"
"No, smother you with that piece of journalistic garbage you've been reading," Lois retorted.
"Ladies!" exclaimed the man reading his business documents. "Can we please can it?"
Lois was about to issue another scathing retort when the intercom suddenly issued a loud squawk.
"Shhh!" hushed the panel man immediately.
Everyone, Lois included, stared at the loudspeaker. It squawked again, and then a distant man's voice could be heard. "Is anyone there?"
"Yes!" yelled everyone simultaneously, and then broke off into a chaotic variety of explanations as to what had happened so far. Everyone spoke at the same time, until Lois shouted "Shut up!" at the top of her voice, and into the ensuing silence, added, "They won't be able to hear us if we all talk at the same time. You," she said, gesturing to panel man. "You talk to them."
He looked surprised and nervous, but turned to the loudspeaker and said, "There's seven of-"
"Can anyone hear me?" said the lift engineer. "Hello?"
"We're here!" called panel man. "Can you hear us?"
There was no reply, then they all heard the engineer mutter, "I don't think they can hear me."
"Yes, we can!" shouted panel man. "We're-"
"Okay, just in case you can hear me, here's where we're at," continued the engineer. "The reason you're stuck is because the elevator went into failsafe. Now, that's great, because that means you're safe as houses. But the engine gears are completely shot and we're having to replace them. Trouble is, we've had to order in one of the parts and it's going to take a few hours to get here. We've been trying to get the thing moved anyway so you folks can get out, but it's not looking good. Sorry, folks, but we think you're in for a long wait. You're completely safe, so don't worry. That elevator isn't going anywhere in a hurry."
There was a collective moan from all seven occupants. "Gee, I sure hope everyone's got strong bladders," said the sour woman.
Lois gave her a withering glance before turning her attention to Clark. His face was ashen and he'd gone completely still. He looked like he'd just been handed a death sentence. "Clark?"
"I'm fine," he muttered, bending forward and resting his head on his knees. "Just fine."
Even with his eyes closed, he could feel the walls closing in on him. Gradually, their living space was becoming smaller and smaller, and the volume of clean air inside was becoming less and less. If they didn't get out soon, they'd all suffocate. There was noise, too — a kind of roaring sound, like aircraft engines when they were put into reverse thrust. He had no idea why he was hearing that, but the effect was pretty frightening. He was encased in this tiny, restricted metal box, with no means of escape and no way to control what was happening to him.
Hours, the man had said. It would take hours before they were free.
Clark was pretty certain he couldn't take much more than a few minutes of this.
Lois would have to think of a way out. She was good at that.
"Try taking some deep breaths, honey."
What, and use up all their precious air?
Immediately, he squashed the crazy thought. As she'd pointed out, there was plenty of air for everyone. The elevator car wasn't hermetically sealed, after all.
Besides, he'd spent plenty of hours in aircraft cabins and that had never bothered him. Well, not as badly as this. And an aircraft was just as cramped and confined as this elevator. Of course, they had proper systems for dealing with the air supply, whereas an elevator didn't…
He forced himself to slow his breathing and tried to find some inner calm. His fears were illogical and he should simply ignore them. That was it. Deep breaths and think rationally.
He clapped his hands over his ears in agony. The shrill yell had taken him completely by surprise, and in the tiny space, with unprotected and unprepared superhearing, the effect was excruciating.
His heart was suddenly racing and the panic was rising again. He had to get out of here. No matter what it took, he had to get out.
Lois turned on the woman furiously. "What the heck did you do that for?!" she demanded, deliberating keeping her voice low despite her strong desire to yell at the stupid idiot.
The woman shrugged carelessly. "I figure being stuck in an elevator with a violent claustrophobic for hours on end — and with no facilities — counts as an emergency. Don't you?"
"Didn't you listen to what that guy said?" fumed Lois. "He said we're in no danger. We're as safe as houses, he said!"
"What about him?" the woman said, nodding at Clark. "He's dangerous."
"Clark is not dangerous," she retorted. "Tell her, Jimmy."
"Um," fumbled Jimmy. "She's right, CK's one of the good guys."
Lois glared at Jimmy, less than impressed with his feeble answer. Jimmy shrugged defensively. "What do you expect me to-"
"He doesn't look so good right now," interjected the man beside the control panel.
Lois looked at Clark. He was still resting his forehead on his knees, but now his hands were clapped over his ears and he was panting; almost hyper- ventilating. His cheeks glistened with sweat, and what little she could see of his face looked very panicky. She'd rarely seen him look so distressed.
Alarmed, she laid a hand lightly on his knee, murmuring, "Clark, you have to stop this. It's all in your mind — it's not real."
But her soothing words fell on deaf ears. He didn't respond to her at all. "Have to get out," he gasped. "I can't breathe!"
He was Superman. The woman had called for Superman. Superman was right here.
All he had to do was punch a hole in the ceiling and haul the car back up to the nearest outer doors. Easy.
There were only five people in the elevator who didn't know the secret. And one of them was Jimmy.
He could ask them to keep it quiet.
Only four people.
They wouldn't tell.
He could get everyone out of here in no time at all.
"Looks like Superman doesn't think we're important enough to rescue."
Lois was about to give the idiot woman a piece of her mind when Jimmy forestalled her. "You don't know what you're talking about," he said forcefully. "Superman helps anyone. Just because he's not here doesn't mean we're not important enough — it just means someone needs his help more than we do. So if you don't have anything useful to say to help my friend, I suggest you shut up!"
"Yeah, shut up, lady," agreed the guy reading his business documents. "You're giving us all a headache."
Satisfied that others were dealing with the woman, Lois turned back to Clark. "You can do this," she said. "I know you can."
But he was scrambling to his feet. She stood up with him, anxious to help him and just a little fearful of what he might do next. Clark wasn't usually an irrational man, but his fear was already making him behave out of character. What would be next?
"Clark, what are you doing?" she said, gripping his upper arms. "There's nowhere for you to go here."
She could feel him trembling — he was really suffering! He hung his head, but thankfully remained still in her grasp, apparently doing his best to fight the fear which was overwhelming him.
"Never tell a claustrophobic there's no way out," commented the guy who'd piped up earlier. "That's the last thing they want to hear."
"What should I tell him, then?" shot back Lois.
"He needs reassurance — loads of it. Tell him we're perfectly safe here. And get him to think about something else."
She turned back to Clark. "Did you hear that, Clark? We're safe. There's plenty of air and the engineer said the elevator is perfectly safe-"
"Maybe he just said that to reassure us," he said quickly.
"No," she said firmly, squeezing his arms. "He said that because it's true. You know how well these things are built — there's all sorts of failsafes they have to build in before it'll pass the building and safety regulations." She had no idea how true that was, but it sounded reasonable. "Clark, you of all people should realise how safe we are," she added, trying to remind him that there was no way Superman would let anyone come to any harm. "If anything did happen — and it won't — Superman would be here before you could blink."
"Maybe…maybe he's here already," he said.
Alarm bells began ringing in her head. Surely he wouldn't…? "No, Clark, I don't think-"
"What did he say?" interrupted the claustrophobia expert. "Did he say Superman's here? How does he know that?"
"He didn't say that at all," she said hastily. "It's just wishful thinking." She thought rapidly. He had to deflect Clark's attention away from his fear somehow — before he did something he'd regret for the rest of his life! What would grab his interest and hold it?
Well, there was always…that…but did she have the nerve to do it in front of these strangers?
Heck, she was Lois Lane, wasn't she? Fearless and uncompromising, ruthless in her search for the truth. If she couldn't do it, no-one could.
Turning a little so that her back was facing the rest of the occupants, she began unbuttoning her winter coat. "Look at me, Clark," she commanded, pulling the coat open as much as she dared. This would have been easier and more effective if she could have taken the coat off completely, but that was out of the question! This show was strictly for Clark's benefit only. "Look at me, sweetheart," she repeated, deliberately softening and honeying her voice.
No doubt she had a rapt audience behind her, she thought grimly. That woman was probably already gearing up for some snide comment about fishnet tights and high heels. If only she could see what Clark was about to see! That would really give her something to talk about. Lois was suddenly seized by a wild, exhibitionist impulse to whirl around and shock them all.
Probably not a good idea.
She reached out and tipped Clark's chin up to encourage him to look. His face was taught with anxiety as it came up, but when he saw her front his eyes nearly popped out on stalks. "Lois, you're-"
"What were you saying earlier about taste?" she asked with an impish smile.
"I…" He clearly couldn't take his eyes off her front, and speech appeared to defy him completely.
Despite the crazy circumstances, she felt pretty proud of herself for having such a direct effect on him. Her whole body seemed to tingle under his eager gaze, and he sure as heck wasn't thinking about shrinking air-space any more. If only they were alone! She could think of plenty more things with which to occupy his thoughts — not to mention his hands, lips and a lot else besides.
"Seen enough?" she said.
His eyes flicked up and down her body. He nodded wordlessly.
"Okay." She buttoned up her coat again. "Now kiss me."
His eyes smouldered down at her and he didn't hesitate for a second, wrapping his arms around her and swooping down to kiss her full on the mouth. She was immediately caught up in the moment, forgetting the rest of the elevator and concentrating on his lips; his open, luscious lips, so soft and sweet yet passionate and hungry. She'd known he longed for more than their waiting pact allowed, but this…this was incendiary! Her loose front scraped against the coarse material of her coat, making her wish he could slip a hand inside and hold her there. She murmured softly at the pleasing idea.
The loud noise of someone clearing their throat broke into her runaway thoughts.
She broke away from Clark and straightened her coat hastily. Looking up at him, he appeared to be as dazed as she felt. Well, this could be highly embarrassing, or she could brazen it out. Winking slowly at him, she turned and assumed an innocent expression of enquiry. "Anyone else want a look?"
All the men in the elevator suddenly averted their eyes and seemed to find enormous interest in studying the carpet. The woman rolled her eyes with disdain and went back to her tabloid paper.
Lois grinned and turned back to Clark. "Let's sit down, honey."
Clark nodded and sank somewhat in a daze down to the floor. She was pretty sure his thoughts would be somewhere else for quite some time to come, but just to be certain, she added, "You know, sometimes it feels like you're looking right through me, Clark." She smiled coquettishly. "I wish you wouldn't do that when we're in company."
His eyes widened again, then settled into a knowing smile. "I'll do my best."
It was odd how Clark's glasses seemed to keep tipping down his nose during the ensuing hours they had to wait for the engineers to arrive.
But maybe not so odd that he found it necessary to remove his jacket and lay it over his lap. After all, the elevator was very warm.
Much later that night:
Lois brought the jeep to a standstill outside Clark's apartment and put it into park. "So, that was a long journey home," she remarked.
"Yes. And thanks for getting me through it," he replied seriously. "I nearly did something really stupid in that elevator."
She reached out a hand and touched the side of his face tenderly. "I know. But the important thing is, you didn't."
"Thanks to you." He leaned over and kissed her lightly. "I wish I knew what happened to me back there."
"It's never happened before?" she asked.
He shook his head. "Never."
He looked worried.
"Well, you've probably never found yourself in a similar situation before today. Maybe you should talk to Dr Klein about it," she suggested.
"He's not really that kind of doctor," he objected.
"No, but he can probably give you some pointers. At the very least, he can put your mind at rest about a lot of the things you're probably worried about." She touched his face again. "Give him a call tomorrow, okay?"
He nodded. "Okay," he replied, leaning forward to kiss her again, lingering a little longer this time.
They tasted each other delicately for a few moments, and then he broke away. "Mmmm," he murmured. "You saved me from myself, you know," he said, keeping his face close to hers.
"In a pretty original way, I thought," she said, smiling at her own inventiveness.
"Very original." He kissed her again, and this time their kiss began to smoulder like the one in the elevator. His hand came around the back of her head and pulled her closer. His lips worked intensely over hers, flooding her senses and making her heart race. She moved her hands inside his jacket, wishing she could get under his shirt — well, actually, she could, couldn't she? She began tugging his shirt out of his pants, while he continued to drown her with his passionate kisses. The shirt came free, and at last her hands found smooth, warm flesh. Goodness only knew where his suit had gone, but who cared?
She ran her hands up his chest. Oh, how she'd longed to do this! Ever since that kiss in the elevator, she'd been aching to pick up from where they'd been so rudely interrupted. Watching him undress her with his eyes had just fuelled her desire, and then when he'd shed his jacket to place it over his lap, she'd practically moaned with frustration.
Meanwhile, his hands were busy, too, unbuttoning her coat and reaching up inside…
She gasped when he found her. This was her fantasy of the previous goodness- knew-how-many hours come true at last. And why the heck were they 'waiting' when she could feel like this? "Clark," she panted, tearing herself away from his mouth temporarily.
"Yeah?" he breathed.
"Would you like to invite me in for coffee?"
"I thought you'd never ask," he gasped, capturing her mouth again with another kiss that sent her senses reeling. "You do realise I've been thinking about nothing else for the past few hours, don't you?"
"Your dreamy expression kinda gave you away." Suddenly it seemed an awfully long way from her jeep to her apartment. "Do you think anyone would notice — " she paused to kiss him again. " — if you just flew us through the window?"
"Who cares?" he answered, and within seconds she found herself on her bed, her jeep having been locked up, her apartment window somehow opened and closed, and rather a lot of clothes having been shed.
Waiting was vastly over-rated, she decided quite a long time later.