By Tracey <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Submitted: December 2002
Summary: New Year's Eve is a time for reflection, looking back and looking forward, a time for hope, dreams and wishes. And sometimes, just sometimes, on the beat before midnight, the wishes your heart most desires might just come true…
Somewhere in the very early morning hours (like 4 a.m. early <g>) of New Year's Day, 2002, this little vignette suddenly popped into my head and was written before I knew it. It's just a little slice of New Year's Eve, S1 style :)
Thanks to Helene for beta-reading in record time, even though she didn't have to. I really appreciate all your comments, and yes, even those TTT-ish suggestions of yours <g>. Thanks! And, thanks to LabRat for taking the time to GE for me and for her terrific feedback.
All characters are property of DC Comics, TNT, Warner Bros. etc., and no copyright infringement is intended. Any reference to any other story is accidental on my part.
"Enjoying yourself, Lois?"
Feeling two gentle hands on her shoulders, Lois Lane turned around, her half-full wine glass in her hand. "Yes, very much so. It's a beautiful party, Lex," she complimented.
"Thank you, my dear," he whispered, leaning down to place a soft kiss on her cheek. "You know that it's only beautiful to me because you are here. I know I must have told you several times already, but you look simply stunning tonight."
"Thank you." She blushed slightly, even though she should be used to his extravagant compliments. They'd been on a few dates together, and each time, he'd been extremely complimentary towards her, almost to the point of embarrassing her. Lois Lane didn't think of herself as an overly feminine and beautiful woman, so it surprised her each time Lex gushed over her. It wasn't an entirely unpleasant feeling, though, she acknowledged, and that was why she'd never mentioned to him that it sometimes made her uncomfortable.
He began to speak, his fingers still casting spidery shadows over the bare skin of her shoulders. "You know that I'd love to stay by your side all night, but unfortunately, there are some important people — business, you understand — that I must attend to. I will find you — " he tilted his wrist towards his face, checking the time on his expensive gold watch " — in about a half an hour so that we may be together at midnight, my dear."
She nodded. "Sure."
He smiled charmingly at her and then reached down for her hand, bringing it up to his lips to sweep a kiss across her knuckles. "Until then," he murmured and then was gone, disappearing into the crowd of people circled around the edge of the dance floor.
When she could no longer see him, she sighed with something almost akin to relief. It wasn't that she didn't enjoy his company; it was just that she felt so … overwhelmed sometimes that someone so powerful and influential and handsome could actually be interested in her, of all people. She often felt as if she just couldn't measure up to the dazzling socialite he wanted her to be.
Tonight had been a prime example. She'd spent most of the evening on his arm, meeting and greeting diplomats and CEOs, not to mention dozens of other socially important people that Lex knew. He had ties, connections, in practically every corner of the globe, and nowhere was that more evident than at his annual New Year's Eve party, which was a very formal dinner in his great banquet hall, followed by dessert and dancing in a huge ballroom located on the uppermost floors of the Luthor Tower. She'd met people from all over the world tonight, but she'd felt very much like she'd been putting on an act the entire time — not once had she been able to let her guard down and just concentrate on having a good time, like everyone else seemed to be doing.
Wandering almost aimlessly across the room, Lois headed back towards her table, dodging dancing couples and waiters with trays of drinks along her way. Someone called her name as she passed, and she pasted a bright smile on her face as she waved hello to a woman that she'd met earlier in the evening. The same scene repeated itself several more times before she completed the journey to the head table, where she'd been seated next to Lex as they'd been served dessert.
It had been a seat she'd also occupied during dinner in the banquet hall, but she'd enjoyed it no more at dessert than she had previously. She hadn't even been able to enjoy her food, instead feeling on display and more like a goldfish in a bowl than a human being. She didn't know how Lex lived like that, constantly in the spotlight and with virtually no privacy when he was in public. It'd driven her crazy tonight, and she'd been grateful when the lights had dimmed and Lex had announced that the dance floor was open. Since then, people had been mingling and milling about, dancing and chatting, and she'd finally, thankfully, been able to slip into the background.
The worst part of the night, though, had been seeing the table of Daily Planet employees, and knowing that she wasn't sitting there. Lex had invited the people of the Planet as a favor to her; he hadn't come right out and said that to her, but it had certainly been implied. At first, she had been glad that he had; it would mean that she'd at least have some friends at the party, some people she knew and would be comfortable around.
However, things hadn't turned out that way. She'd barely seen her friends tonight between greeting people with Lex, eating beside him, and dancing with him several times already. She'd run into a few people she'd known from the Planet as she and Lex had made their rounds, but they'd barely acknowledged her while she'd been on the arm of Metropolis's most wealthy citizen. Lex had assured her that this was a simple case of jealously, but she wasn't sure she believed him. In any case, the snub had hurt, even though she'd never allowed the pain to show on her face.
She'd finally shrugged it off, telling herself that those people didn't matter. They weren't her closest friends anyway; those people were also here tonight, but the difference was that they *had* stopped to talk to her. She'd seen Perry and Jimmy on the way in, but she hadn't been talking to them for more than a few minutes when a messenger had come up to her to let her know that she was wanted at the head table. Apologetically, she'd excused herself, promising to catch up with them later, but so far, she hadn't been able to find them again.
Lois had been able to catch up with Clark briefly as well, but again, she'd been whisked away from him before long. She'd been surprised that he was even here tonight; he'd made it no secret that he didn't like Lex Luthor. She supposed that, like most people in Metropolis, he'd simply come because everyone else was here, and the Luthor mansion was the place to be on New Year's Eve.
He looked good tonight, she reflected, staring, seemingly fascinated with the drink in her hand as her thoughts drifted. He was dressed in a crisp black tuxedo, a look that made his already dark hair seem even darker and his normally warm brown eyes take on this almost exotic onyx coloring. Not that she would ever, ever tell him, but those eyes had made her stomach flutter a little the first time they'd locked with hers earlier in the evening. Combine that with the way his suit jacket had hugged his broad shoulders and the way the white of his shirt had contrasted sharply with the tan of his skin, she'd found it a bit hard at first to form the words to speak to him.
Luckily, she'd come back to herself just in time, immediately burying those strange feelings deep inside her. She didn't feel *that* way about Clark! It was merely an appreciation of an attractive man, something innate in all women, and nothing on which she should waste another thought.
But that still didn't stop her from recalling his image now, wishing that he would come and find her, maybe even see that she was alone and ask her to dance …
'Stop it, Lois,' she commanded herself. It was probably just the effect of a few too many drinks tonight, but in any case, she should not be thinking about her partner like that. She was here as Lex's date, even though he wasn't currently with her. Funny, but somehow she wasn't too upset about that fact.
Absently, she played with the napkin on the table, almost wishing she could be anywhere but here. She glanced up at the tall grandfather clock behind her; fifteen minutes until midnight. Fifteen minutes until the New Year.
To her, New Year's Eve had never really held the excitement that it seemed to hold for other people. People always made resolutions, usually unattainable goals and promises to make the coming year better than the last, but those were never kept. Promises, she knew from experience, were nothing but empty words, ready to be broken at any moment. So why make a promise to yourself that you knew you wouldn't keep? Lois figured it was a waste of time, and that's why she'd never done it.
Some time later, another glance at the clock told her that just five minutes had passed since she'd last checked. People around her were now crowding onto the dance floor, where waiters were handing out noisemakers and confetti to throw to ring in the New Year. Couples were cuddling close to each other, reaching out and making sure that their loved ones would be near them when the clock reached midnight. Lois craned her neck, looking around for Lex. He'd said that he would find her before midnight, but as far as she could see, he wasn't even in the room.
It wouldn't bother her, though, if he didn't find her, Lois admitted to herself. She wasn't really looking forward to kissing him at midnight anyway. He'd kissed her several times on a few of the dates that they'd had, but the truth be told, he'd never really done much for her in that area. He always tasted of those awful cigars that he smoked, and even if he hadn't had one recently, it was still a vague scent that hung over him regardless.
She'd always pretended that she enjoyed their kisses, though, mostly out of some sense of obligation: he'd taken her out to the expensive dinner, she'd ridden in his private limo, he'd bought her a bracelet in the store window simply because she'd mentioned that she'd thought it was pretty.
She'd never really felt like he genuinely cared about her, though. Those things that he did for her were for show, to dazzle her with his money and his charm. Why was she choosing to spend what remained of the past year with someone who treated her more like a decorative possession than an actual person?
Lois leaned back in the chair with a soft thud as a reality that she had been fighting for months finally hit her. She didn't want to be with Lex — she never had. She didn't want to be here tonight — she'd never wanted to. Why had she been trying to make this work with him? It was a question that she might never be able to answer.
But she was sure of one thing now, and that was that she couldn't stay in this ballroom any longer.
She still had several minutes before midnight, and in sudden decision, she stood and headed for the huge double doors, her heels clicking in a quick rhythm across the hardwood floor.
Clark Kent took a deep breath, filling his lungs with the cold night air that surrounded him. He'd had to get out of there; it had just been too loud, too stuffy, too … too *fake* for him. He didn't want to welcome in the New Year standing in a crowd of pretentious people who cared more about their own expensive tastes than about the world around them.
It'd been a mistake to come here in the first place. He knew that. He'd felt like that from the moment he'd stepped across the threshold. In fact, he'd been just about ready to turn around and head for home when he'd seen …
And, as it always did, the sight of Lois Lane had brought the world to a screeching halt, and the entire window of his existence had shrunk to encompass only one woman. Any thoughts of leaving had slipped away, his motions driven now by the need to be where she was, to be close to her, to be near enough to her that he could hear her heartbeat and inhale the wonderful scent that he knew was just her.
He'd been away in Smallville, spending Christmas with his parents, and he hadn't seen her in a week. Didn't that give him reason enough to be weak, just this once?
Ignoring the voice in his head that was telling him that he was always weak when it came to Lois, he'd promptly forgotten about the surroundings of their meeting and walked swiftly towards her, trying not to look overly eager.
"Lois!" he'd called out as he'd neared her, and she'd turned around, locating him so quickly in the large group of people that it was almost as if she'd sensed his approach before he'd even said her name.
"Clark! Clark, you're here!" She'd walked forward, meeting him halfway. "I didn't think you'd make it."
"Well, yeah, I wasn't sure, but hey, here I am," he'd returned, tossing his hands up in a 'who knew?' type of gesture. He'd had to consciously try to keep the smile on his face from growing any wider, but in the end, he'd been pretty sure that he'd failed in that regard. "Lois, you look wonderful," he'd added before he could stop himself, and he'd known that the appreciation in his eyes would be evident.
She'd smiled at him, and then he'd watched her eyes give a quick assessment of his attire as well. She'd opened her mouth to say something, but then quickly shut it, looking a bit flushed and almost a little embarrassed. In the end, she'd mumbled a quick thanks and ducked her head, a move that left him wondering what she'd been thinking. He'd even given himself a quick once over — had he forgotten a button? Were his shoes on the wrong feet?
However, before he'd had time to examine things any farther, she'd been rushed by a hurried-looking attendant, telling her that there was a group of people which Mr. Luthor had instructed him to introduce to her.
His eyes — not to mention his heart — had gone cold at the mention of Luthor's name, but when she'd looked at him with those sweet eyes and apologized for having to leave, he'd merely nodded and told her that he'd talk to her later. And in the next instant, she'd been gone.
Clark sighed, leaning against the black railing of the balcony on which he was standing. He remembered very clearly watching her leave, captivated by the gentle sway of the bottom of her black-as-midnight dress as she walked. She looked so good in black, especially when her hair was whisked back in that loose clip, tendrils falling from it and curling down to touch her shoulders and brush the back of her neck. He wondered how she made it look like that, all messy and beautiful and styled and beautiful at the same time.
But as wonderful as the beginning of the night had been, the rest of it had been a nightmare. He'd been hoping that he'd be able to find some quiet time with her sometime during the evening. He'd only come to Luthor's party because he'd known that she was going to be there, and he'd figured that it wouldn't hurt to be able to keep an eye on Lex Luthor for the night, either. But the chance to spend New Year's Eve with Lois — no matter the group of people or the location — had been too attractive to pass up.
Needless to say, he'd only been able to admire her from a distance for the remainder of the night. She'd been attached to Luthor's arm for a good part of the evening, and by the time they'd made it out onto the dance floor for the first dance of the night, Clark had had to excuse himself and go to the bathroom simply because he couldn't bear to watch Luthor's arms around Lois.
And the worst part of it all was that he knew that he had no right to feel jealous at all. The bottom line was that when it came to Lois Lane, he had no claim on her at all, other than the fact that he was her partner at work and sometimes-friend.
However, in recent months, they'd grown to know each other a little better, and it was true that she now treated him as more of a friend than she ever had before. It seemed that she was beginning to accept the fact that he was her partner and someone she could trust, and he was proud of that progress. He'd even spent some time at her apartment after work, and she had been to his apartment several times — once, in fact, just to hang out and watch a movie with him. They were getting closer.
However, none of that meant she was interested in him as anything more than a friend. He'd never made any kind of romantic move towards her because he knew that it wouldn't be welcome and would probably ruin any kind of solid relationship they'd built.
And then there was the fact that she was pretty much head- over-heels for his moonlights-in-tights alter ego, but that was a whole other story in itself. The bottom line was that any kind of romantic relationship with Lois Lane was, unfortunately, out of the question for the moment.
Clark glanced down and checked his watch again; only three minutes until the New Year. He'd never really been one to make New Year's resolutions, but perhaps this year a wish would be more appropriate than a resolution, he thought.
With the city glittering beneath him, he looked up into the sky above him. Like he used to do when he was a kid, he picked out the biggest and the brightest star he could find to cast his wish upon. And when he found it, he closed his eyes, his face tilted towards the heavens, and concentrated hard. His first wish was that his relationship with Lois would deepen in the coming year. He wished that she would look at him and see him for who he really was, and that they would find the love that he was absolutely sure was possible between them.
And finally, before he opened his eyes again, he wished with all his heart that she were here beside him right now to celebrate the beginning of the New Year.
Lois came into the sitting room of the Luthor mansion, her destination clear in her mind. She'd made it out of the ballroom, and although she was feeling better, she really wanted a breath of fresh air more than anything.
The doors leading out the balcony were open, and she wondered at that. Curious, she approached quietly, not wanting to disturb the people — probably a couple in search of some privacy, she thought — who were out there.
However, when she looked, there was only one shadowy figure on the balcony, a man standing quietly by the corner of the railing, staring up at the sky. She started to step back, disappointed that someone had apparently found the silent refuge before she had, but stopped suddenly.
Wait, it was a free world, wasn't it? It was a big balcony, and she had as much right to be out there as this guy, didn't she? Clearing her throat softly, she took a tentative step up and onto the balcony. "Would you mind a little company?" she asked the man.
He turned, and when he did, the light from the inside fell across his familiar face. "Hmm, your company? I may have to think about that." He was grinning broadly.
"Clark!" She grinned, too, surprised but very, very pleased that her mystery balcony man had turned out to be her partner. She crossed the short distance that separated them and came to a stop beside him, resting her arms across the railing. She turned her head to face him. "What in the world are you doing out here?"
He paused for a moment. "I just couldn't take it in there," he answered finally.
Her answer was short, as his was, but there was just something about the stillness of the night that calmed the urge of conversation until it disappeared almost completely. They stood together, watching the city, hearing the noises of the people and the parties, all gearing up to celebrate the arrival of the New Year. She shivered suddenly; it was downright cold, and she hadn't thought about that before running out here. It had been too important to get out of the stuffy ballroom, and she'd completely forgotten that the harsh winter temperatures of Metropolis didn't cater well to the thin spaghetti straps of her evening gown.
Clark noticed her discomfort immediately. "Gosh, Lois, you must be freezing! What, are you crazy, coming out here with those bare shoulders of yours and no coat?"
She looked at him, smiling through chattering teeth. "Yell at me later. Just be a gentlemen and give me your coat, Kent," she ordered, smiling.
And as he began to shrug out of his coat, she heard a chorus of voices rise in the background, counting down loudly the last few seconds of the old year.
Clark must have heard them, too, for he paused as he took off his jacket. "Well, looks like there isn't much time left," he commented needlessly.
"Yeah, I guess not," she replied, looking back into the house.
Just then she felt a warm fabric being draped across her shoulders, and she turned, finding herself face to face with her handsome partner.
Time seemed to slow, the last ten seconds of the countdown echoing around her. The moon above them peeked out from behind a tiny cloud, as if excited to witness the appearance of the New Year as well. Lois looked down and saw Clark's hands on her shoulders as he straightened the jacket so that it wouldn't fall off her, noticing how sweet and concerned his eyes were for her. The suit jacket was warm with the heat of his body, and her chilly skin eagerly soaked it in.
Finally, the countdown reached its final number, and suddenly, there was a loud roar from the city below them. To the east of them, the bells in the church tower chimed, heard throughout the city, and there were fireworks in the distance around the harbor of Hobb's Bay. The city seemed to explode and then hold there as people welcomed the New Year into Metropolis.
Lois and Clark watched, awed as they took in all the sights and sounds around them. They watched the lights, the colors, and the sound of people laughing and celebrating. Finally, Clark leaned closer to her. "Happy Hew Year, Lois," he whispered, almost as if he was afraid to break the spell around them.
She smiled, and it was happy smile, her first genuinely happy smile of the night. Standing here alone with Clark, watching the celebration around them, felt good. They were cloaked in the darkness of night, save for only a sliver of moonlight and the warm light from inside the house that fell across the doorframe of the French doors to the balcony. It was private, and it was beautiful. There was no other place in the world she would rather be right now, and no one else she would rather share this moment with. She leaned up closer to him as well. "Happy New Year, Clark."
He smiled down at her, and on impulse, she threaded her arms quickly through the sleeves of the jacket and then reached up to circle her arms around his neck. She hugged him tightly, much more tightly than she would have ever allowed herself under any normal circumstance. "I hope this year holds happiness for you, Clark."
She felt his arms squeeze her tighter for a fraction of a second. "Ditto," he murmured into her hair.
They released each other, and Lois stepped back, a smile on her face. He was smiling widely at her as well, but his smile was more of a secret smile, almost as if he knew something she didn't. "What?" she asked, wanting to know what had been the cause of such a smile.
He shrugged, still grinning. "Would you believe that one of my wishes for the new year already came true?"
"Really? Wow, that was pretty quick," she said skeptically. "What was the wish?" she added as a curious afterthought.
He laughed this time, a rich, full laugh that suggested he was very, very happy about something. And maybe it was the atmosphere of the night, maybe it was the influence of the alcohol they'd both consumed — she really wasn't sure — but something must have made Clark a little braver than usual tonight. He reached down and swept her into another huge hug, swinging her off her feet. She tried to protest, but couldn't because she was laughing too hard. "Clark!" she gasped. He just spun her around in response, and by the time he set her down again, she was dizzy and thrilled.
But not dizzy enough to forget her question. "Come on, Clark," she managed to get out between gasping breaths. "You never told me what your wish was that came true!"
He winked at her and then shook his head. "No way, Miss Lane. I can't tell you that right now. If you tell one wish, the other ones might not come true."
She was still skeptical, but he continued on, a faraway look in his eye now. "And, Lois, my other wishes? They are *definitely* going to come true."