By AnnieM <firstname.lastname@example.org> and KathyB <email@example.com>
Submitted: August 2003
Summary: When Lois meets Lucy at a bar to celebrate her little sister's birthday, the alcohol starts to flow. And when she invites Clark to join them, so do the hormones.
Lois padded from the bathroom to her bedroom, clad only in a towel, removing the curlers from her hair and smoothing it into place. A quick glance in the mirror assured her that her hair and makeup were in order. She shook her head, wondering how she had let Lucy talk her into this. It was ten o'clock on a Thursday night. Normally at this time, she'd be settling in for the night. But tonight was Lucy's twenty-third birthday, so rather than getting dressed for bed, she was getting dressed to go out dancing.
She'd never heard of the club that Lucy has chosen. It was called "The Quality Bar," but from Lucy's descriptions, she imagined "The Quantity Bar" would have been a more fitting name. Lucy apparently was in love with one of the bartenders. Lois could only imagine what this flame of the week was like, but part of the birthday bargain had been that Lucy got to choose the location and Lois had to come without complaining. She wasn't relishing the thought of hanging out with a bunch of Lucy's friends, but she figured she could always leave early, explaining that she had to work in the morning, if she got really bored.
She sifted through the clothes in her closet, pondering what to wear. Lucy, no doubt, would be dressed to kill. She was a woman with a mission, and she had every intention of showing her bartender just what she had to offer. Lois, on the other hand, had no such mission, and her style was decidedly tamer than Lucy's in any case.
She reached for jeans, then hesitated. She should at least wear a skirt. Her hand hovered above one of her favorite suits. It was serviceable, and if she didn't wear the jacket, it wouldn't really look like she was going to the office.
As she removed the hanger from the rack, her phone rang. Before she even heard the voice on the other end, she knew it was Lucy. Pulsing music and the din of numerous conversations assaulted her as soon as she picked up the receiver.
"Lois!" she heard Lucy yell over the background noise. "Where are you?"
"I'm getting dressed. I'll be there soon."
"You're not wearing one of those awful suits are you?"
"My suits are not awful!"
"Fine. No, I'm not going to wear a suit," Lois said, placing her initial choice back on the rack. She started to reach for her jeans when Lucy broke in with, "and don't wear jeans either! For crying out loud, Lois, I know you have cute outfits, and you never wear them."
"Lucy, in case you've forgot, I've been dressing myself every day since I was four without your help. I do not need your input."
She could hear Lucy snort in response. "What happened to that short black skirt? You know, the one with the little slit off center in the front. It's cute and it shows off your legs."
"Lucy, I really don't -"
"Oh! And you can wear that red silk shirt with it! You know — the tank top."
"Lucy, I wear that *under* other shirts, not on its own."
Lois wasn't entirely sure, but she thought she heard Lucy mutter something about stick in the mud. Before she could respond, Lucy barged on. "Just do it, Lois. Trust me, it will look great. And I left my red heeled sandals at your apartment. You can borrow those. They'll be perfect."
There was a commotion at the other end of the line that sounded like someone was dragging Lucy to the bar. "Okay! Gotta go! Hurry up, Lois!"
As the dial tone buzzed in her ear, Lois hung up the phone and walked back to her closet. She hesitated for a moment, but finally gave up and pulled out the outfit Lucy had described. It wouldn't kill her to dress up for one night.
Slipping on the clothing, Lois examined herself in the mirror. She hated to admit it, but Lucy was right; this was a great outfit. The shirt was a bold red and fit just right — tight,but not clingy — with a scoop neck that was generous without being too revealing. Her slim- fitting black skirt fell to a couple inches above the knee, the slit showing off a generous portion of her right thigh, and the strappy red sandals with high, square heels added length to her already long legs. She was almost disappointed she didn't have someone to show off for.
She dumped her keys, credit cards and some cash into a small red purse, grabbed her coat, and was out the door before she could change her mind.
Parking her Jeep a block away, Lois walked down the sidewalk until she found herself in front of The Quality Bar. She eyed the door doubtfully. Even from the street, she could hear the pulse of the music coming from inside. It was faint, but she had no doubt it would be a lot louder once she opened the door. Still, the neighborhood seemed nice enough … she'd certainly met snitches in worse places, at least.
Pulling open the door and stepping inside, Lois glanced around the room, pleasantly surprised. Three pool tables were set up to her right, separated from the rest of the bar by a low wall. Several partially filled glasses rested on the ledge, while a twenty-something waitress cleared away empty beer mugs from a group of men who were getting ready to leave. The far side of the bar was a bit more crowded, however, as it included a dance floor with a brightly-lit neon juke-box in far corner. The place wasn't oppressively crowded, but from the number of people dancing, Lois had a feeling there was rarely a shortage of music.
A loud squeal reached her ears and Lois turned just in time to be caught in a bear hug by her sister. "Lois! You made it!"
Lois couldn't help but laugh at her sister's excited tone. "Well, I said I'd be here, didn't I?"
"Yes, and you look *wonderful*," her sister enthused. "I told you that outfit would look totally hot on you!" Before Lois could formulate a response, Lucy was pulling her towards the large bar that took up the middle of the room. "Come on, you've gotta meet Jerry."
Perching herself on an empty bar stool next to her sister, Lois watched speculatively as Lucy began chattering excitedly at the bartender, clearly fawning all over him. So this was the famous Jerry? He didn't look so special … sure, he was moderately attractive — if you liked rugged blonds with perfect teeth — but why did Lucy always go for looks over brains? The guy worked in a bar, for goodness sake! He probably would always be happy to make minimum wage. And he probably had no idea how to hold a normal conversation, either. When would Lucy ever learn?
At that moment, the young man thrust his hand out over the bar. "Nice to meet you, Lois," he said in a relaxed, friendly voice. "Jerry Maxwell. Lucy has told me a lot about you."
Lois took his hand, a bit surprised. His handshake was firm and confident, and he was actually looking her in the eye. Usually Lucy's boyfriends were kind of, well, weasily …and Lois wasn't quite sure what to make of the change. "Um, nice to meet you, too, Jerry."
The three of them made small-talk for a few minutes, but as she watched Lucy continue to make doe-eyes at her newest conquest, Lois made a sound of exasperation. "So, how long have you been working here, Jerry?" she finally interjected, trying to sound as if she actually cared about the answer. The kid barely looked old enough to drink, let alone serve.
"About two years," came the response. "I started out waiting tables and worked my way up."
"Jerry is the night manager," Lucy interjected proudly. "And he's a great bartender. He can even juggle bottles, like Tom Cruise did in that movie!"
"Oh … great," Lois forced out with clearly fake enthusiasm. "Is there much of a future in juggling bottles?"
Lucy shot her a warning look, but Jerry only laughed. "Well, hopefully when I have my own place, I'll be able to keep my customers entertained. I'll be graduating next year with my business degree and I'm hoping to open my own bar and grill someday soon." Lois blinked in surprise. "You … go to college?"
"Metropolis University," came the reply. He gave Lucy a warm smile. "That's actually where we met … I was registering for next semester and she came in to pick up a catalog."
Lucy beamed. "I wasn't sure I wanted to take classes anymore, but Jerry talked me into it. He said that if I keep working at it, eventually I'll get my degree, too."
Lois was flabbergasted. Lucy was actually dating a *normal* guy? One who was encouraging her to go to school? It was almost too much to comprehend! Almost despite herself, Lois began to relax … maybe this night wouldn't be a total disaster, after all.
"So, ladies, what can I get you to drink?" Jerry asked brightly. "Lucy, you said you wanted something fun to celebrate."
Before her younger sister could answer, Lois placed her order. "I'll just have a glass of white wine."
"Lois! It's my birthday," Lucy protested. "It's not a work party. Live a little, will ya?"
Lois looked at her sister defensively. "What are you talking about? There's nothing wrong with white wine."
"It's just so boring, that's all! We're in a totally fun bar … Jerry can mix up anything you want. Come on, loosen up!" Lucy began to grin as she leaned suggestively over the bar towards her new boyfriend. "What do you suggest, Jerry? I seem to remember you telling me you had a real talent for Screaming Orgasms."
Lois rolled her eyes. "Oh, give me a—"
"Or maybe Lois would like to have Sex On The Beach."
Her sister laughed out loud. "Lois, you have been away from college for far too long!"
Jerry watched the interplay between the two sisters with amusement. "May I make a suggestion?"
Lois shot Lucy a warning look. "Please."
"I'm well-known for my Long Island Iced Tea … sound good?"
Lucy's face broke into a broad grin. "Hey, now you're talkin'!" she exclaimed.
Lois glanced at her sister, a little confused. White wine was too boring, yet iced tea was fine? Sometimes she thought she'd never figure Lucy out. And here she thought Lucy would be trying to get her drunk. With a name like iced tea, how strong could the drink be? "OK, I'll try it," she agreed.
Jerry grinned. "Two Long Island Iced Teas, coming up!"
Lois closed one eye as she leaned over the pool table, lining up her next shot. "Eight ball in the corner pocket," she announced.
A loud chorus of "No way!" came from the group of people at the other end of the table, but as Lois sunk the shot cleanly, their protests turned to roars of laughter. Grinning, she hefted the pool cue over her head. "The winner and still champion!"
As the men she'd just defeated shook their heads and handed over their money, Lucy doubled over with laughter. "How is it, Lois, that when other people drink, their pool skills go to hell, but when you drink, you only get better?"
Lois laughed and took another sip of her drink, noticing with some disappointment that the tall glass she'd been served was almost empty. "It must be this iced tea that Jerry makes," she said, suddenly unable to stop herself from giggling. "You were right, Luce, he is a good bart— barten— drink maker-upper!"
The two women dissolved in peals of laughter as they replaced their pool cues and headed back towards the bar. "Maybe you need another one," Lucy suggested. "Then you can try darts."
Lois teetered a bit on her high heels, but by holding onto the edge of the bar, she was able to slip onto an empty stool without falling. "I don't know," Lois chuckled doubtfully. "I'm feeling a little tipsy. Probably shouldn't let me handle sharp objects."
Lucy just grinned. "A little tipsy, huh? Lois, honey, you are flat-out drunk and you know it!"
"Me?" Lois responded with astonishment. "There you go again, Little Sis, confusing us again … you're the one who's swaying in your seat."
Lucy exchanged an amused look with Jerry, who had just come up to talk to them. "Um, Lois, I'm fine … you're the one who's— Oh, never mind. Jerry, sweetie, do you think you can get us another drink? I think I'll try a rum and Diet Coke this time."
Jerry nodded. "Anything the birthday girl wants. Lois, how about you?"
"Oh, I don't know … how about another one of those Iced Tea mixie thingies? They don't really taste like iced tea, so I'm not sure why you call it that, but it sure is good!"
Lucy looked uncertain. "Uh, Lois, I don't know … you've already had a Long Island, an ameretto sour, and a rum and Coke. Are you sure you should have any more?"
Lois burst out laughing as she took in the doubtful look on her sister's face. "Lucy- Goosey, now who's being a stick in the mud? It's my baby sister's birthday!" As soon as the words were out of her mouth, Lois's expression grew tender. "My baby sister … twenty-three years old. Oh, Lucy, you're all grown up now!"
Eyes widening, Lucy burst out laughing at her sister's sudden emotional outburst. "Oh, God, Jerry, get this woman what she wants. She's going to start getting all sappy on us in a minute!"
When the drink appeared before her, Lois leaned over eagerly and took a long draw on the straw. "Like it's sappy to say how much I like my little sister!" she protested, then started giggling again.
Jerry leaned over the counter towards Lucy, a grin on his face. "I like your little sister, too," he declared, stealing a kiss from the birthday girl.
"Oh, now that's what I call a present!" Lucy exclaimed and threw her arms around his neck, happy to encourage a repeat performance.
As she watched two trade kisses back and forth, however, Lois just sighed wistfully. "Clark is a really good kisser, you know," she suddenly announced.
Lucy pulled out of Jerry's embrace in astonishment. "When have you kissed Clark?"
Lois smiled, more animated now that she had her sister's attention back. "Oh, I've kissed him lots of times," she said brightly. "I was kissing him when I barely knew him! Of course, we were about to be thrown out of an airplane at the time and I used the kiss as a way to whisper my plan to him — not that it helped because there were like four of them and only two of us and they were pretty big and had guns—"
"What? Oh, yeah, kissing Clark … I also kissed him when we were undercover in the Honeymoon Suite … well, actually, he kissed me. Threw me right down on the bed and laid on top of me—"
Lucy's eyes were wide as she leaned forward. "Wow …"
"Yeah, and then — just when things were getting good! — the stupid maid walked in with extra towels. I mean, we were there on a our honeymood; who needs towels!
"You mean you were there *pretending* to be on your honeymoon—"
"Yeah, yeah, whatever." Lois took another drink from her glass. "And then, of course, there was that time I got drunk on that pheromone spray and went to his apartment to seduce him."
"You seduced Clark??" A loud squeal erupted from her sister, causing several customers nearby to look over at them with curiosity. "Ohmigod, how was he??"
In contrast to her sister's joyful outburst, however, Lois just looked glum as she rested her chin on her hand. "I don't know; he was being all noble and wouldn't take advantage of me. I should have been more forceful … that's my problem, I have a hard time being forceful around guys that I like."
Lucy choked on her drink, causing a concerned Jerry to pat her on the back.
"Anyway, it doesn't matter," Lois continued, beginning to slur as she rambled on. "It's not like he likes me or anything. I mean, he told me he loved me once, but before I could do anything about it, he took it back."
"I don't know, Lois," Lucy offered, finally recovered from her coughing jag. "Clark seems like a really nice guy. I think you should try again." She paused for a moment, then continued with a teasing smile. "Plus he's totally hot."
A huge grin spread across Lois's face. "He is really good-looking, isn't he? I mean, it's not often you can find a guy who looks good in anything. He looks good in his suits for work, he looks good in him gym clothes—"
"Mmm, gym clothes," Lucy sighed dreamily.
"And he looks *fantastic* in a towel," Lois added, purring happily at the memory.
Lucy squealed again. "You saw Clark in nothing but a towel??" she exclaimed, grabbing onto her sister's arm excitedly.
Lois's grin broadened even more. "Yeah, and he was still wet from the shower … all those drops of water, running down his skin, disappearing into his—"
"Oh my *Gawd*!" Lucy exclaimed, picking up her ice-filled glass and running it along her neck to cool off. "You are, like, *so* totally lucky, Lois!"
"And I haven't even started telling you about how utterly *amazing* he looks in black!"
Superman landed gently on Clark Kent's balcony, and, after checking to make sure he hadn't been seen, quickly entered through the bedroom door. As soon as the door was closed, he spun out of his suit and into a pair of jeans and a T- shirt. What a night!
He'd been in the newsroom all evening, working with Jimmy to dig up the information he needed for one of his stories. They'd made some great progress, but by the time ten-thirty had rolled around, Clark had found himself getting antsy. After he'd filled Jimmy in on what he needed and set the young man to work, he'd been relegated to the sidelines as his computer- genius friend worked his magic. His fidgeting had only increased as he began to hear sirens coming from the Hobbs Bay area … there had been an increase of gang activity in the area in recent weeks and while the cops seemed to be getting things under control, Clark had been meaning to have Superman put in an appearance in the neighborhood to show that he was keeping watch as well. Fortunately, just as he was formulating an excuse, Jimmy noticed his distraction. Mistaking it for tiredness, Jimmy had laughed and told Clark to go home, that he would finish up and email the relevant information. Clark was only too happy to accept the offer.
Now, however, it was a little over two hours later and he was anxious to see what Jimmy had found. With a amused shake of his head, Clark opened the lid to his laptop computer and booted up the machine. When the Daily Planet had been rebuilt last year, the email system had been upgraded and was not only a lot faster now, but staff members with computers could also log onto their email from home. Lois had been quick to embrace the new technology, but Clark had been skeptical at first — if he had work to do, why couldn't he just do it in the newsroom? But he couldn't help but admit that he was starting to change his mind. After the long day he'd had, it was certainly convenient to have the new technology available.
Disconnecting his telephone, Clark plugged the modem cord from his computer into his phone jack and logged into his work account. Perry had set a deadline of ten o'clock tomorrow morning on his investigation, and while Clark was determined to prove that there was indeed a story here, time was running out. The only thing that could save him now was if Jimmy could work one of his miracles and find the proof that Clark knew was out there, but was having trouble accessing.
Clark grimaced as he checked his mail — no new messages. Come on, Jimmy … what's going on? He opened a new message of his own.
Date: Friday, 21 October 1994, 00:38
Subject: How's it going?
Yo, Jimbo! Are you still there? Find anything yet?
He sent the email and waited. If Jimmy was on his computer, he should get the message right away. If not, well, Clark would just have to wait until morning. Fortunately, it wasn't long before he got a response.
Date: Friday, 21 October 1994, 00:40
Subject: Re: How's it going?
CK! You still up? I thought you were going to bed?
Anyway, I'm almost done here. I found exactly what you were looking for. You'll definitely have enough to convince Perry that the Congressman is dirty. Give me another half-hour and I'll send you what I've got.
Clark pumped his fist triumphantly. Yes! His fingers flew over the keyboard.
Date: Friday, 21 October 1994, 00:40
Subject: You rock!
You're awesome, Jimmy … I owe you, big time.
Date: Friday, 21 October 1994, 00:44
Subject: Re: You rock!
LOL! How did you get a message back so quickly? And I thought I typed fast … anyway, go to bed. I'll see you in the morning. And tomorrow you can buy *me* coffee just like you always do for Lois. Only make sure it's strong and high- fat. None of that fake cream and sugar stuff that she likes.
Date: Friday, 21 October 1994, 00:45
Subject: Re: You rock!
Count on it … good night! And thanks!
Clark was still smiling as he shut down his computer and replaced the modem cord with his regular phone line. Heck, he'd be happy to buy Jimmy the entire contents of the coffee cart if the young man could pull this off!
Downing the last of his tea in a single gulp, Clark was about to take the empty mug into the kitchen when he was startled by the ring of his phone. He smiled. Jimmy must have gotten tired of email and decided to call.
Clark answered in a chipper voice. "Hey, what's going on?" He'd barely gotten out the words, however, when he pulled the phone away from his ear abruptly. Whoever was calling definitely wasn't in the newsroom. He could hear music blaring and glasses clinking and the din of many loud voices in the background. He tried again, confused. "Hello?"
Clark flinched as the voice yelled his name. "Lois?"
"Clark! Good, you're still up! I got a busy signal before. Who in the world were you talking to this late?"
"Lois? Where the heck are you?"
"I'm at a place called The Quality Bar … I need you to get over here." He could have sworn he heard laughter in the background. "Right away!"
Clark furrowed his brow. The Quality Bar? What in the world was Lois doing in a bar at — he craned his head to look at the kitchen clock — nearly one o'clock in the morning? And why did her voice sound a little different than usual? "Are you on a stake-out and didn't tell me?" he demanded, feeling a flicker of annoyance at his partner. Ever since he'd won his first Kerth last month, she'd been even more competitive with him than usual. No wonder Lois wasn't interested in his investigation into the Congressman — she had her own story, one that she wanted to keep to herself!
A loud clunk reached his ear, as if the phone had been dropped, then he heard a very feminine giggle as the person picked up the receiver again. "What?" she shouted, "I didn't hear you!"
Clark shook his head. "Forget it." Whatever was going on, she clearly wasn't going to tell him on the phone. "Where are you?" he asked loudly. "What's the intersection?"
"Um … hey, you! In the blue shirt! What street are we on?" Her voice became less muffled. "Eighteenth and Concordia. So you're coming?"
He nodded into the phone. "Yeah, I'll be right there. Anything you need me to do first?"
Another giggle reached his ears and Clark eyes widened in astonishment. What in the world was Lois doing? "Yeah!" she called out, laughing. "Wear black!"
As the line went dead, Clark could only stare at the phone in his hand, utterly confused. Wear black? That little— She was on a stake- out! And they were clearly going to be sneaking around somewhere where she didn't want them to be seen!
With a sigh, Clark replaced the handset and walked into his bedroom. The last thing he'd expected tonight was to change his clothes and go back out, but if Lois said to wear black, black she was going to get.
It didn't take Clark long to locate the bar and Lois's Jeep. Landing in a nearby alley to spin into his surveillance outfit, he was still tucking the tails of his black button-down shirt into the waistband of his black dress pants as he stepped onto the sidewalk. He walked past Lois's car first, making sure she wasn't conducting the stake-out from there, but when he saw that the Jeep was empty, he continued on to the club's entrance.
When Clark opened the heavy wooden door, he was assaulted by the loud, pulsating music and the roar of voices shouting to be heard. The place was packed. Clark assessed the crowd quickly. It wasn't the snobby, yuppie clientele of The Metropolis Club, but it was a far cry from some of the seedier places on the south side of town where he'd gone to break up bar brawls.
The dance floor in the back of the room was crowded with couples gyrating their bodies to the beat of the music, and a smaller room to his right was full of people laughing and talking as they played pool. Not finding Lois among the pool tables, Clark shifted his attention to the patrons crowded around the large bar in the middle of the room, laughing as they watched the bartender … juggle bottles? Well, that was something you didn't see every day.
The bartender stopped juggling abruptly, pouring a row of shots with a flourish. As the crowd cheered, he slid them down the bar to a small group of women who snatched them up and threw them back in unison.
Shaking his head, Clark smiled and walked past the bar towards the seating area, still looking for Lois. She was probably in a dark booth, he imagined, trying to get as far away from the noise as she could.
Suddenly, a familiar voice cut through the din, "Oh, come on … just one little dance?"
Stopping in his tracks, Clark turned around slowly, her attention directed back towards the bar. When he located the source of the voice, his jaw dropped. "Lois?" He was sure his eyes were fooling him. She was dressed in one of the sexiest outfit he'd ever seen her wear, and it sounded as though she was trying to convince the bartender to allow her to dance on the bar.
Clark walked up behind her, becoming more confused by the second. "Lois?" he repeated, a little louder this time.
When she saw him, his partner broke off in mid- sentence and launched herself at him, wrapping her arms around his neck. "Yay! Clark's here!" she exclaimed. "I knew you would come!"
"Of course, I came," he responded, catching her in his arms. Figuring this was part of her investigation, and not wanting to incur her wrath by blowing her cover, he returned her enthusiastic hug and tried to pretend this behavior was normal.
"Hi. You must be Clark," the bottle-juggling bartender said with a grin, extending his hand over the bar counter. "Jerry Maxwell. I've certainly heard a lot about you."
Putting what he hoped was a friendly smile on his face, Clark reached out to shake hands with the man, a task made slightly more difficult by the fact that Lois was still wrapped tightly around him. "Uh … yeah … hi. Nice to meet you."
Lois released him from her death grip, but she didn't go far. Wrapping one arm around his waist, she grinned up at him and began running her other hand down his chest. Despite his confusion, Clark couldn't help but return her smile, even as he felt his temperature begin to rise. He still didn't know what kind of undercover assignment this was, but he definitely hoped they went on more of them in the future.
A theatrical throat-clearing from the bar stool next to them soon took his attention from Lois, however, and Clark couldn't help but register his surprise at the familiar face he saw sitting there. "Lucy?"
"Hi, Clark," she said, almost a little sheepishly. "Sorry to bring you out so late, but we've been having a little fun."
"There's nothing wrong with having fun," Lois interjected brightly, pulling away from Clark just long enough to smile at her sister. "Lucy thinks I don't know how to have fun, but I do." She looked back up at her partner again and grinned. "I'm having lots of fun tonight."
At her older sister's words, Lucy dissolved into giggles. "We're *both* having fun," Lucy corrected. "I'm the birthday girl and I'm havin' lots of fun, and you're the birthday sister and you're havin' lots of fun, too!"
As Clark looked back and forth between the two women — and noted the amused expression on the bartender's face — his confusion finally lifted. Lois wasn't undercover; she was out celebrating her sister's birthday and had just had a little too much to drink. Well, OK, a *lot* too much to drink, by the sound of things, and Lucy didn't seem to be too far behind her. Still, the reason they had called him was now perfectly clear …
"So you need a ride home, huh?" he asked, starting to chuckle as he wrapped a friendly arm around Lois's shoulders. He still wasn't sure why Lois had made him change clothes, or how she had gotten herself this inebriated, but at least it cleared up his misconception that this was a stake-out.
Instead of responding, Lois just continued to run her hand over his chest, massaging the muscles hidden beneath his shirt. "See, Lucy," she said turning her grin towards her sister, "Didn't I tell you he looked *fantastic* in black?"
Clark's eyes widened at her words and he caught her hand in his, stilling its movement. "Lois, what are you doing?" he asked self-consciously.
"Mmmm," she sighed, almost purring with pleasure as she snuggled in closer, her lips brushing lightly against the side of his neck. "I missed you …"
"You missed—? *Lois*?"
She gave a throaty chuckle. "I'm so glad you came, Clark. I wanted to play and it's so much more fun with you here."
Despite himself, Clark's whole body began to tingle at the sultry tone of her voice. He wasn't exactly sure what Lois meant by 'play', but from the way her free hand had begun tracing the most amazing patterns down the small of his back, he was guessing she wasn't talking about Scrabble.
"My God, Lois, how much have you had to drink?" he exclaimed, quickly reaching around his back to stop her hand as it tried to dip below his waistband.
"Just a few drinks and a couple glasses of iced tea," she responded in all innocence.
Clark raised his eyebrows and stepped back, taking in her tussled hair, glazed eyes and bright smile. He shot a questioning glance to the bartender.
Jerry held up Lois's nearly empty glass. "Long Island Iced Teas," he explained.
Clark's eyes widened still further. "And you've had two of them?" he asked Lois. "*Plus* a few other drinks?" At her cheerful nod, he sighed. Well, that explained a lot. She was clearly not in control of her actions, no matter how much he was enjoying being on the receiving end of them. "Oh, boy … OK, ladies, come on. Get your coats and I'll take you home."
Clearly, however, this wasn't what Lois had in mind. Once again, she wrapped her arms around his neck and tried to tug him backwards, leading him away from the bar. "I don't wanna go home yet," she told him. "I wanna dance."
"Oh … Lois," he stalled. "I don't think that's such a great idea. Why don't we get your stuff together, and—"
"Aww, come on, Clark," she coaxed sweetly, her voice taking on a flirty tone that completely weakened his defenses. "I love dancing with you … why do you think I called you?"
"Um, because you needed a ride home?" he answered hopefully.
Her eyes twinkled as she slowly shook her head. "Mmm-mmm," she drawled. "Could'a taken a cab."
"Ah, but then you would have left your car here," he answered reasonably. At least, he hoped it sounded reasonable … it was kind of hard to think when her hands were exploring his chest with such obvious appreciation.
"Back tomorrow then," she dismissed, a predatory grin growing on her face. She drew closer and nuzzled into his neck again, causing Clark to release a quiet groan. With a helpless glance back towards Lucy and Jerry — who, instead of coming to his assistance, were now engaged in a little nuzzling of their own — Clark allowed himself be dragged out onto the dance floor.
The music was loud and throbbing, pulsing through their bodies, but despite her obvious inebriation, Clark noticed that it took Lois no time at all to find the beat. She danced close to him, continuously brushing against him as she rotated her hips in time with the music.
A little voice in the back of his mind told him that this probably wasn't a very good idea, but the longer they danced, the less able he seemed to be to resist her. His body responded to Lois's as if by instinct, finding the beat and moving along with her.
As the fast dance tune continued, his hands stayed firmly on her hips, helping Lois to keep both her distance and her balance, but it wasn't long before the music changed to a slower song, and Clark immediately found Lois pressed flush against his body. Unable to help himself, he brought his hands up to her back, holding her to him. The soft silk of her shirt felt cool to his touch, and he skimmed his fingers over the material, taking in as much of the sensation as possible.
"Mmm, Clark, you feel good," she purred in his ear.
He took a shaky breath, wondering how he had got himself into this situation. "You, um, feel pretty good yourself," he croaked out, his throat suddenly feeling quite dry as she began running her fingers through his hair. He vaguely considered trying to get them back to the bar so he could get a glass of water, but he decided it would be best to keep Lois as far away from her unfinished drink as possible.
As they continued to dance, it became clear that Lois had intertwined her legs with his, and Clark suddenly could feel the inside of her thigh brushing along the outside of his. Glancing down, he noticed that the slit of her skirt was showing an even more generous portion of her leg as she moved to music, and without thinking of the consequences, he lowered his hand to protectively tug the hem of her skirt back to a less revealing position. As his palm made contact with Lois's nylon covered thigh, however, a low, satisfied growl escaped her lips and she pressed herself against him even more tightly. He felt her chest heaving against his, her soft breasts rising and falling against him, and Clark heard himself growl in return.
Trying to get a grip on his quickly escalating hormones, he sternly reminded himself that Lois wasn't in control of her actions and he had no right to be enjoying this as much as he was. Of course, not enjoying it would have been a lot easier if she wasn't, at that very moment, tracing the tip of her tongue along the outside of his ear.
Clark jumped at the intimate contact, causing Lois to pull her head back in surprise. "Wh's wrong?" she asked, genuinely confused.
Knowing that he had to stop things before he did something he would regret — and Lois would never forgive him for — Clark summoned all his willpower and backed out of her arms. Taking her firmly by the hand, he led her off the dance floor and back to the bar. "We need to get you home," he said.
"But I don't want to leave, Clark," she protested, as they rejoined Lucy and Jerry. "I wanna stay here with you." Once again, she molded herself against him, her free hand coming up to trace the collar of his shirt.
Stepping out of her grasp, Clark pantomimed a signature and mouthed the word "Check" to Jerry, and was relieved when the other man quickly nodded and moved to the other side of the counter. To his shock, Clark noticed his hand was trembling, and he dropped it quickly, trying to force his heart to stop beating so rapidly.
Lois, however, was not easily deterred. Before Jerry could even return with the bill, Clark felt Lois's arms snake around his waist from behind. "Don't you just want a dance a little bit more?" she asked. "We don't need to go home yet." Her questing hands moved north, exploring his chest, and Clark felt resolve began to waver. Truth be told, he wanted nothing more than to let her pull him back onto the dance floor and to continue doing exactly what they had been doing.
But he had already let this go too far, he reminded himself sharply. He needed to get her home before she did something she'd regret. Lois had trusted him enough to call him when she needed a ride home, and he wasn't going to throw away that trust for one night ofdrunken craziness. He couldn't take advantage of her — or any other woman — like that.
"Sorry, Lois. It's time to go home."
Lois pulled away, clearly agitated. "I don't want to go home! Why don't you listen to me? Why don't you know what I want? Why do I have to tell you?"
Caught off guard by her sudden outburst, Clark turned to look at her, perplexed. "I always listen to you, Lois," he assured her. "I just can't always do what you want."
Lois looked at him skeptically. "You listen, but you don't *really* listen. You don't know what I mean to say … what I'm trying to say. I just want you to— Why can't we just—"
Before Clark could make heads or tails of what she was trying to tell him, Jerry reappeared with the check. "Well, congratulations, Lois," he said with a grin. "You win. You've got the highest tab in the place. Well, the highest for only two people, at least."
Lois was immediately snapped from her musings by the announcement. "Yay! I win! Did you hear that, Clark? I won!" Lois clapped her hands in delight, then tugged on Clark's arm, nearly jumping up and down.
Clark shot a helpless look at Lucy and Jerry, who were trying valiantly to contain their laughter. He turned his attention back to Lois, handing her a pen and signaling to her to sign her credit card receipt.
Lois took the pen and began to sign, but stopped suddenly, looking up at Jerry. "What's my prize?" When Jerry just cocked his head quizzically, she pressed him. "You said I won. What do I win?"
"Oooo," Lucy said, cringing. "I forgot to tell you, Jerry; my sister is a little competitive …"
"Umm, well—" Jerry faltered, unsure how to respond. "Sorry, Lois. There's no prize with this award."
"What?" Lois demanded, suddenly outraged. "That's not fair! You can't have a contest without a prize. I won!"
Clark placed a hand on her flailing arm, trying to contain her. He guided her hand back to the receipt, then shook his head as she scrawled something that looked more like Egyptian hieroglyphics than her signature.
"What a rip," Lois muttered, shoving the paper and pen back to Jerry. "Last time I enter a contest in *this* place."
Jerry looked a bit deflated, but after a moment, his face brightened. Reaching behind him, he grabbed a blue plastic cup, added some ice, then filled it up with water. He handed it to Lois with a smile. "There you go, Lois. Here's your prize."
Lois looked at it suspiciously. "What kind of prize is that?" she asked. "It's just water."
"Yes," the bartender conceded. "But you don't see anyone else with a blue cup, do you?"
At this, Lois perked up. "Hey, cool." She took a sip, then smiled. "Mmm, it's like takeout water."
When the rest of them just looked at her blankly, she continued. "It's like water that you take out. To go. Take out. Get it? Takeout water."
"Yes, Lois. I get it," Clark answered indulgently.
"No, you don't get it. It's like water that you take out."
Clark stifled a smile and nodded sagely as if Lois was imparting great wisdom to him.
"Get it?" she asked again.
"Yes, Lois. It's wonderful. Why don't you bring your takeout water, and come with me? Where are your keys? I'll take you home."
"You're coming home with me?"
"Of course," Clark said, retrieving Lois's purse from the counter and removing her keys before handing it to her. "How did you think you were getting home?"
Before he knew what hit him, Lois had abandoned her takeout water and launched herself into his arms again. "Hooray! You're a much better prize than takeout water!" Delighted, she began kissing his neck again, mumbling suggestions of just what they could do once they reached her apartment.
Clark felt his temperature skyrocket and knew his face must be bright red. He started to correct her, planning to explain that he was simply going to make sure that she made it home safely, then he would retreat to his own apartment before he did something they both wound up regretting, but he quickly realized that this was the first time since he'd been there that she seemed willing to leave. She had finally stopped fighting him, and if he had to let her think that they were going to share a romantic interlude in order to get her to leave the bar, well, he could do that. With any luck, she'd forget all about it by the time they got home, anyway.
Gratefully accepting Lois's coat from Lucy's outstretched hand, he awkwardly wrapped it around his partner's bare shoulders, glad that it wasn't particularly cold outside.
With an arm around her waist, Clark began guiding Lois to the door, but when he realized that her sister wasn't following them, he stopped. "Come on, Lucy, you're coming, too," he said, then rolled his eyes as Lois began tugging him towards the door, suddenly very eager to leave.
Lucy glanced at Jerry, and then turned back to Clark with a smile. "Don't worry about me, Clark. I'm going to keep Jerry company until closing time. He'll take me home."
Clark hesitated. Jerry seemed like a nice enough guy, and Lucy didn't seem nearly as drunk as Lois, but he still didn't feel comfortable leaving her alone in a bar. "I don't know, Luce …"
Jerry interrupted, coming out from behind the bar. "It's OK, Clark, Lucy's helped me close up lots of times. As a matter of fact, I just sent one of my guys out to pick us up some dinner. She'll be sobered up before we leave here, I promise."
"And you'll be driving her home?" Clark asked.
The young man nodded solemnly. "Yes, and I never drink when I'm driving."
Lucy appeared at her boyfriend's arm. "I'll be fine, Clark, but thanks so much for worrying about me." Her smile was warm and genuine as she gave him a quick hug. "I think my sister's pretty lucky to have found a guy like you," she murmured as she held him. "Don't let her get away."
As she pulled back, Clark looked at the young woman with absolute astonishment. "Don't let—? What??"
Instead of responding, Lucy just moved on to her sister, capturing her in a big bear hug. "Thank you, Lois," she gushed. "This was a great birthday!"
"Happy Birthday, Lucy-Goosey," Lois said, hugging her back just as tightly. "This was lots of fun!" She looked around quickly and then whispered conspiratorially, "Clark's comin' home with me. Isn't that great?"
Giving his head a rueful shake, Clark took Lois by the hand and began leading her back to the door, pausing only briefly to roll his eyes as Lois made a quick dash back to the bar to scoop up her blue cup of water. "Come on, partner, let's get you home."
As they exited the bar, however, Clark could still hear Jerry and Lucy talking.
"It's great that Clark was worried about you, Lucy, but do you think we should be worried about your sister?" Clark heard him ask. "She's been throwing herself at him pretty hard. I hope he's not going to take advantage of her."
Lucy's response was immediate. "Don't worry about Clark, Jerry. He's one of the good guys. He'll do the right thing."
As they reached Lois's car, Clark gritted his teeth while he worked to fit the key into the lock. He appreciated Lucy's confidence in him … but it sure would be a heck of a lot easier to do the right thing if her sister would stop blowing in his ear.
"Well, here we are," Clark announced, swinging Lois's front door open before them. "Home sweet home." To his relief, Lois entered the apartment without arguing, but once inside, he could tell that she was still a little unsteady on her feet. He was instantly at her side as she swayed, catching her with an arm around her waist seconds before she bumped into her coat rack. "Whoa, careful there," he said soothingly.
Lifting her chin, she looked into his eyes with a sleepy expression, a warm smile slowly spreading across her face. "Mmmm, thanks, Clark," she said. "I don't know what I would do without you."
As Clark looked down on her, he couldn't help but lift a hand to her cheek, brushing back a wayward lock of hair and tucking it behind her ear. The car ride home had been thankfully uneventful — well, except for the way she'd occasionally slide her hand up his thigh as he was driving — and in contrast to the bouncy, frenetic woman he'd had to practically drag from the bar, Lois now almost seemed to be moving in slow motion, as if lost in a pleasant, sleepy fog. The change in atmosphere was obvious, and Clark finally felt himself begin to relax. "I'll always be here for you, Lois," he murmured reassuringly. "All you have to do is call."
"Mmm," she sighed again, her smile becoming more beatific as she wrapped her arms around his waist. "I called you and you came. You're wonderful. You're my hero."
As his arms came up to hold her, Clark slowly released a deep breath, trying once again to order his overactive libido to behave. He was relieved that Lois was no longer being so overt, but in a way, her gentle affection was almost harder to resist. It brought out such a yearning in him, a longing for her that could almost take his breath away with its intensity. Yet at the same time, having her smile at him the way she was now — a beautiful, genuine, glowing smile that he couldn't help but return in kind — reminded him of exactly why he could never "just have sex" with Lois, even if she were to throw herself at him while perfectly sober.
It wasn't that he didn't dream of making love to her — he was actually a little embarrassed over just how often the fantasies occupied his mind — but the connection he felt with her went far beyond sexual attraction. Lois was quite literally his best friend, the best friend he'd ever had and the best friend he ever expected to have. And as attractive as he found her — and he *always* found her attractive, whether she was dressed to the nines for a dance club or cuddled up on the couch with him, watching movies in her baggiest sweats — it was his emotional connection to her that kept him craving more. He didn't want a one-night stand … he wanted forever.
"Come on," he said with a nod towards the kitchen. "Let's get you sobered up a little before I have to leave."
Relieved that Lois willingly followed him across the apartment, Clark handed her a glass of water and began puttering in the kitchen. His first instinct had been to make coffee, but he quickly decided that caffeine was the last thing Lois needed at two o'clock in the morning. So instead, he set about searching her cabinets for anything remotely edible that he might be able to turn into a snack. Experience had taught him that her refrigerator would be a lost cause, and a quick peek inside only confirmed his expectation. After discarding into her trash can the two-week-old cartons of Chinese carry-out he recognized as being left from the last time he'd eaten here, he finally settled on peanut butter and jelly. Thank goodness she actually had some bread that wasn't covered with fuzz.
He kept glancing in her direction as he worked, smiling from time to time as he caught her eye. She seemed happy and relaxed, but there was still something about the way she was watching him, something about the smile playing on her lips, that kept him from relaxing completely. It didn't take long for him to put his finger on his feelings … the yearning was coming back, full force.
Firmly telling himself to ignore it, Clark finally turned towards Lois with a sandwich plate in each hand. "I think we're ready," he announced with a smile. "Should we eat at the table?"
"OK," she responded slowly, still watching him.
Clark felt a little shiver go down the back of his neck as he brushed past her, but he forced himself not to react. What was it about her that could do this to him? It was bad enough that every nerve ending in his body had been on high alert while they'd been dancing, but he hadn't expected to still feel this way once she stopped being so obvious. But if anything, he was quickly realizing how much more dangerous this situation was than that in the club … when she had been on the offensive, his self- consciousness and the public setting had kept his reactions in check. But here, in her apartment, he kept finding himself wanting to do something totally crazy.
Clark quickly sat at the table, hoping something so mundane as sharing a sandwich would distract them both. But he hadn't taken more than a single bite before he realized that Lois hadn't joined him. Turning back towards the kitchen, he cocked his head quizzically. "What's wrong?" he asked.
She just smiled from her place at the counter. "Nothing," she said. "I just like watching you, that's all."
"Lois," he said, his groan sounding almost pleading. "Come on, sit with me … I want you to eat something so I can feel better about leaving." And he did need to leave. Soon. That much was all too apparent.
This time her smile turned into a grin. "I'd love to sit with you, Clark." She approached him, beaming, and before he realized what was happening, she had dropped herself into his lap. Her arms went around his neck and she rested her forehead to his, still grinning. "I thought you'd never ask."
Clark dropped his head back and felt it clunk against the high back of the chair. "Lo-is," he groaned again. "God, you're trying to kill me."
She laughed and sat up a little straighter. "Oh, stop worrying, I'll be good," she promised, reaching across the table to pull her own plate a little closer.
"That's exactly what I'm afraid of," Clark muttered, grimacing as her bottom shifted enticingly on his lap.
If she understood the meaning behind his words, however, she didn't acknowledge them. Tearing a corner from her sandwich, Lois popped it into her mouth. "Mmm," she sighed dreamily. "This is great. Just what I needed."
Reaching around her to his own sandwich, Clark picked it up and brought it to his mouth for another bite. This wasn't exactly what he'd had in mind when he'd hoped the food would distract them, but Lois was finally eating, and the sooner they finished, the sooner he could send her to bed — *alone*, he reminded himself sternly — and he could escape to the privacy of his own apartment. "Hmm, it is pretty good, isn't it?" he agreed. "I didn't realize I was hungry until I started eating."
"Me, too," she mumbled around a mouthful of sandwich, then giggled as Clark couldn't help but laugh.
Thankfully, it didn't take long for either of them to finish their food, but if Clark had been hoping Lois would simply stand and announce that she was tired, he was sorely mistaken. Instead, she turned in his arms until they were face to face. "Thank you, Clark," she said in a gentle voice. "For taking such good care of me."
"You're welcome," he whispered back, feeling himself getting lost in her eyes. "I really do need to go now, though," he explained, almost apologetically.
Lois nodded, seeming to understand, but her gaze had dropped to his mouth. "You missed some peanut butter," she said with a little smile.
Before Clark could react, he felt her thumb caress his bottom lip, then move inside his mouth to brush against his tongue. On instinct, he sucked gently, tasting the peanut butter that she had mentioned, and watched spell-bound as her eyes darkened with arousal. It was the single most erotic thing she had done all night. "Oh, God," he whispered.
In one quick motion, he stood up, almost dumping Lois off his lap. Yelping, she grasped onto his shoulders for support, almost falling to the floor in the process. It couldn't be helped.
"What's wrong?" she asked in amazement as he quickly detangled himself from her grasp.
Clark was already halfway to the door. "I've gotta go," he said, his breathing accelerated. "*Now*."
Lois followed him, curious. "You don't like me, do you?" she asked. It was said as a statement, not an accusation.
His hand on the doorknob, Clark stopped and forced himself to take a few deep breaths. "Don't be silly, Lois," he finally responded, eyes still on the door. "Of course, I like you."
Lois's voice drew closer until it was right beside him. "But you don't *like* me, like me," she repeated. "'Cause if you did, you'd want to kiss me. Right?"
At her words, Clark lifted his head very slowly, finally meeting her eyes. "Lois," he said on a shaky sigh, "believe me, I do like you. I like you very much. Very, *very* much. But you're drunk and not thinking clearly … and if I kiss you now, and by some miracle you actually remember any of this in the morning, you are going to kill me."
Lois took a half-step towards him, closing the already short distance between them as she leaned on the door, blocking his exit. "But what a way to go," she murmured, her eyes flickering to his mouth.
With a strangled groan, Clark felt the last of his resolve snap. He placed his hands against the wall on either side of Lois's head and captured her mouth in a passionate kiss, pinning her tightly against him as he finally unleashed all the desire within him. The kiss was long and hungry and entirely mutual, as Lois quickly wound her hands up between them and grasped his head to draw him in closer. When they finally pulled back, Clark found himself breathing harder than he ever had in his life.
Lois's eyes were glazed over and she looked as though she was having trouble focusing as she gasped for air. Unrepentant, he lifted one hand and let his thumb drag over her bottom lip, brushing against the swollen dampness which offered proof that their kiss wasn't a dream. After a moment, he met her dazed look.
"If you do remember this in the morning, Lois," he assured her breathlessly, "and you still want me … I promise you, all you have to do is say the word, and I will be back here in a single heartbeat."
And with that, he pulled open the door, and slipped out, desperate to leave while he still could.
Beep. Beep. Beep. Beep.
Lois groaned as the Daily Planet delivery truck next to her bed began to back up, emitting an effective yet horribly obnoxious tone to warn those in its path. Through bleary eyes, she noticed that the familiar globe that usually identified the paper's trucks had been replaced by The Quality Bar's logo on one side, and Jerry Maxwell's smiling face on the other. Her sister Lucy was driving.
Beep. Beep. Beep. Beep.
"Lois, get out of the way!" her sister shouted as the truck rolled over Lois's prone body. "It's my birthday and you're blocking me. Come on, let's have some fun!"
Lois coughed from the exhaust fumes — being under the truck was making her head pound, her eyes feel dry and gritty, and her mouth feel like it was filled with cotton. "I know how to have fun," she protested, annoyed, as she tried to push against the tire. "Now get this truck off me and turn off that awful sound! It's giving me a terrible headache."
Beep. Beep. Beep. Beep.
"Lucy, I mean it!"
Beep. Beep. Beep. Beep.
"I'm tellin' Mom!"
Beep. Beep. Beep. Beep.
As the sound of her alarm clock finally began to insinuate itself into Lois's subconscious, she became more aware of her surroundings and the image of the truck began to fade. Unfortunately, the feelings that had accompanied the dream did not. Slowly, she cracked one eye open, surveying her surroundings through the tiny slit. She appeared to be in her own bedroom, though for some reason, everything looked slightly different this morning. Lois groaned again, bringing an arm up to cover her eyes. The truck may have just been a dream, but she certainly felt as if she'd been run over by one.
The obnoxious beeping continued until Lois couldn't take it anymore and she finally sat up to make it stop. She quickly realized that doing so was a big mistake, however. The world spun around her, and Lois quickly flopped back to the bed, clutching desperately at the mattress. Her stomach roiled in protest over the sudden motions and she squeezed her eyes shut, concentrating everything she had on not getting sick.
When her stomach had finally calmed, Lois opened her eyes again — more tentatively this time — and surveyed her surroundings. At first, she thought all the furniture in her room had been moved, but eventually she realized that it was her who had been rearranged. Somehow she had wound up sprawled upside down on the bed, her head towards the bottom. With a whimper, Lois slowly crawled back to the head of the bed to switch off the alarm clock.
As she touched the off button, the silence soothed her nerves, and Lois sighed in relief, collapsing gratefully into her pillow. Maybe she could just stay here for a little while … go back to sleep … no one at work would have to know. Yes … this felt better … just a few more minutes …
Beep. Beep. Beep. Beep.
Argh! Snooze control!
This time, her arm flailed out immediately to stop the incessant noise, hitting its mark the first time now that she was back into her normal sleeping position. But the action brought another fact to her attention. Looking down at herself in amazement, Lois confirmed that she was wearing nothing but her underwear. What in the world had happened to her pajamas? A glance to the floor beside the bed revealed nothing but the crumpled outfit she'd worn out last night.
As she stared at the outfit, snippets of the night before began pricking at the edges of her brain. She remembered talking to Lucy on the phone and her younger sister dictating what she should wear to the bar. Then she'd met Lucy's new boyfriend, and the man had fixed them a drink. Come to think of it, he had fixed them a couple of drinks …
Lois shook her head. The rest of the night was still a blur. She wasn't exactly sure how she had arrived back to her apartment, but it was pretty clear that once she'd made it this far, she hadn't bothered with the niceties of putting on pajamas.
She apparently hadn't bothered to brush her teeth or wash her face either, she soon realized as the grungy feeling finally made itself known. Sitting up — more carefully this time — she swung her legs over the edge of the bed and released a sound of displeasure. First order of business was brushing her teeth …though a long shower was coming in a close second.
A little over an hour later, however, Lois was still whimpering as she stumbled through the rest of her morning routine. Not only had the hot shower done little to revive her, but everything seemed to be taking three times as long … dressing, putting on her make-up, even drying her hair. And since when had her hair- dryer gotten so loud, anyway? She was beginning to wonder how she was going to make it through the rest of the day.
Had it really been this bad in the past? It had been ages since her college drinking days and she couldn't remember the last time she'd been this hungover, if she ever had. Just how much had she had to drink, anyway?
Rubbing her temples, Lois made her way into the kitchen. If her stupid head would stop pounding long enough, maybe she could concentrate on actually remembering what had happened last night. She certainly hoped she hadn't driven herself home … she knew better than that, and would have surely taken a cab. Maybe Lucy … no, Lucy had been drinking just as much as she had …
Suddenly the image of Clark driving her Jeep popped into her head. Clark? Had he driven her home?
Lois focused on her partner, trying to remember how he fit into the picture. Had she called him? Or maybe she'd just talked to Lucy *about* him? No, wait … there was music … she'd danced with him, hadn't she? So he had definitely been there. But why had Clark been at the bar with them in the first place? That made no sense at all.
With a puzzled shake of her head, Lois opened the counter over her kitchen sink, looking for the bottle of aspirin that she used to keep there. The incessant pounding in her temples and sinuses refused to stop, and the pain was threatening to make her sick to her stomach again. Her relief at finding the medicine just where she'd remembered it was short-lived, however, when, after almost screaming in frustration as she wrestled with the childproof cap, she finally got the bottle open only to discover it was empty.
Biting back a curse, Lois desperately hunted her cabinets for another bottle of pain reliever, then brightened hopefully as she pulled out a small white bottle near the back. Studying the label, she furrowed her brow, momentarily uncertain, then gave a mental shrug. The PMS medicine boasted relief from pain, bloating, nausea and irritability. That pretty well summed up how she was feeling!
Two tablets went down quickly with a large glass of water, but instead of returning the bottle to her cabinet, Lois slipped it into the pocket of her dress pants. Somehow she had a feeling that a single dose wasn't going to do it today.
Force of habit took her through the motions of making coffee, but the moment she opened the can and began to scoop the grounds, Lois realized what a bad idea that was. The smell alone put her stomach into revolt. She gave in quickly, recovering the can, but as she glanced around the kitchen, Lois's brow furrowed in confusion. Her package of bread was out on the counter, the wrapping left open, and a small container of peanut butter sat next to it, a used knife resting sideways over the lid. When in the world had she gotten the peanut butter out? And just as confusing, *why* had she gotten the peanut butter out? It wasn't something she usually ate … in fact, she'd purchased that jar months ago on a whim and it had sat, unopened and untouched, since then.
A sudden memory of Clark making sandwiches at her kitchen counter, his black sleeves rolled half-way up his arms, entered into her mind, and Lois slumped back against the sink, stunned. Clark was here last night? In her apartment? He hadn't just dropped her at the door?
Wait … she was starting to remember now. Somehow Clark had been at the bar with them and they'd danced … and then he had brought her home and come inside. Lois raised an eyebrow. And apparently had made her a peanut butter sandwich, though for the life of her, she still couldn't figure out why. No less confused than she'd been before, Lois put the jar back in the cupboard and the knife in the sink, absently sucking off a small dab of peanut butter that had gotten on her thumb … and was instantly struck by another case of deja-vu.
She quickly turned to look at her table, eyes wide.
Clark. Peanut butter. The table. She'd been sitting on his lap. His mouth … her thumb … the look in his eyes …
With a loud gasp, Lois turned to face her doorway as the memories came flooding back. Clark had tried to leave. She'd followed him to the door … had stood very close to him …
Her breath caught in her throat as she remembered being pinned against the wall, trapped by Clark muscular body. Her heart began to beat wildly as she remembered the feel of his lips against hers, the tip of his tongue—
Is that how she'd ended up in her underwear???
Lois took a few gulping breaths, trying to calm down. No … no, Clark didn't stay. He'd walked out the door … practically bolted, in fact, after saying something … something … no, it was still out of reach. What had he said? For some reason, she knew it was important but she still couldn't quite grasp it … but she hadn't wanted him to go, that much she remembered.
She'd been sad to see him go … keenly disappointed. She'd locked the door behind him, sighed wistfully, and come back into the living room, wishing she could talk to him again …
Lois's eyes opened still wider as she whipped her head around, fighting off the dizzy feeling her protesting body gave her as her gaze settled on the laptop computer on her coffee table.
No … she didn't … she couldn't …
Ignoring the pounding in her head, Lois rushed to the couch and grabbed the computer, pulling it into her lap as she sat down. With shaking hands, she called up her email program.
She couldn't … she wouldn't …
She clicked past her in-box to her sent-mail folder …
Please, God, no. I'll do anything …
… and opened the index.
Her stomach dropped.
She didn't, she couldn't, she wouldn't …
But she had.
Date: Friday, 21 October 1994, 02:42
Subject: waht you misssed
Iam ritng you this mail becuase youare gone awy. y9oui shouldnolt have gone. Iwant you hear. We arehaveing much fun at the abar. I want morefun withy yui. youia re looking verty good in black. Imso glad you wroe the lblakc. I dont know why yuo went awy. We wer have fun. If youare here we cound have more ufn. I amelonving you lots. You arewonederful. weare sogood together. Whd dont yo9u want to love me? we could have a goodnight bt u you wnt away. I wanted to love with you. we arelove. is good. isbadto goaway. you do love me? we had a good kiss. so yes love? Comedback rightnow. If you cme back we cold have good night togehte. hapily ever after, if you arehere. yay! comeback qyuick!!
Lois exited the elevator into the newsroom, more than a little afraid of what she might find when she got there. Images of her email being passed around to everyone in the newsroom, holding her up as the target of ridicule, kept flickering through her mind, and making her want to turn around and head back to bed. She didn't really think Clark would do such a thing — after all, he was her best friend and if he'd really wanted to take advantage of her condition, he'd had more than ample opportunity last night — but even the idea that he might read it himself was enough to make her feel sick to her stomach.
As if it wasn't bad enough that she'd kept throwing herself at him at the bar — the little blue cup of 'takeout water' that greeted her in her Jeep this morning had brought back even more memories — now Clark would have physical proof of how out of control Lois Lane had been!
Walking through the bullpen, Lois warily approached Clark's desk, then stopped right in the middle of the aisle to stare, amazed. Clark's desk, like her own, looked as if it hadn't been occupied yet that morning. After vaguely wondering if Clark had gotten drunk last night, too, Lois allowed herself to get excited. If Clark wasn't at work today, maybe there was hope of getting her email back! He never even had to know it was there!
Crossing the short distance to her own desk, Lois set her purse down, then winced and rubbed her temples. Correction — she could retrieve the email assuming she got through what was left of the morning without killing herself first. And to do that, she'd need a little chemical assistance.
Digging some change out of her purse, Lois cautiously approached the vending area at the top of the ramp, making a wide berth around the coffee pot. Usually coffee was her drug of choice, but after this morning's encounter with the brew, she wasn't taking any chances. Dropping her quarters into the change slot of the soda machine, Lois reaching on instinct for the Diet Coke button, but as another wave of exhaustion washed over her, she rethought her decision and went for the real stuff instead. Caffeine alone wasn't going to do it this morning … she was in serious need of caffeine *and* sugar.
Sipping the beverage gingerly, Lois walked back to her desk, trying to resist the urge to run the cold can over her cheeks. Why in the world was the heat up so high in the newsroom? It felt like a furnace in here! When she stopped feeling like death warmed over, she was really going to have Perry talk to building maintenance about that.
"Hey, Lois, howya doin'?" a chipper voice intruded.
She looked up, wincing. "Jimmy, do you have to yell?"
The young man looked confused. "Yell? I didn't—"
She waved him off, rubbing her temples once again. Then she remembered her mission and glanced at Clark's desk, relieved to find it still dark and empty. "Do you know where Clark is?"
"He came in early this morning to meet with Perry," Jimmy responded, "then he took off again to follow some leads. We were here really late last night trying to get the goods on Congressman Gardner and—"
As Jimmy's words filtered into the small part of her brain that was still alert, Lois perked up dramatically. "So Clark's gone?" she interrupted, trying hard to keep the excitement out of her voice.
"Uh, yeah …"
"And his computer is still off," she continued eagerly. "Does that mean he didn't check his email this morning?"
Jimmy faltered, clearly at a loss as to her line of questioning. "Not that I know of. He didn't sit at his desk at least. He just showed Perry the information, got his approval to run with the investigation and took off." He looked at her more closely. "Lois, are you OK? You're acting a little odd."
"Yes!" she exclaimed, only grimacing a little this time as she noticed the throbbing behind her eyes had begun to subside. "I'm fine, Jimmy, and even better now." She made her way over to Clark's desk and plopped herself down in his chair. "Now where's the power button on this thing … ah, here it is." She turned the power switch to the 'on' position and took another drink of her cola while it booted up. This was going to be even easier than she had hoped — she just needed to get into Clark's email, find the message, and delete it. Piece of cake!
With a barely contained look of glee, Lois watched as the desktop screen came into view and she immediately launched Clark's email program. Like taking candy from a—
"Ack!" she gasped. "A password!" What in the world was Clark doing putting a password on his email?!
At her exclamation, Jimmy approached Clark's desk. "What's wrong?"
Lois looked up quickly, like a kid caught with her hand in the cookie jar. "Ah, nothing! Nothing at all. Just— Jimmy, don't you have some work to do?"
Her attempt to distract him only increased his suspicion and he looked over her shoulder at the screen. "Are you trying to break into Clark's email?"
"No! Not … really. I just … sent him an email by accident and I'm trying to get it back, that's all. That's not breaking in. That's just … getting back something of mine that he isn't supposed to have." She sat back, pleased with the logic of her reasoning. Even hung-over, she was the best.
Jimmy, however, simply leaned in closer, clearly intrigued. "What kind of email?" As Lois's eyes widened in panic, however, Jimmy began to chuckle. "Did you two have another fight?"
Lois jumped at the opening. "Yes! Yes, a fight … a big, *terrible* fight. Last night. Very messy." She waved her hand in the air, as if the action would help the words come. "And I … wrote him an email telling him off, but now I want it back because … because … it will hurt his feelings! Yes, that's it … I don't want to hurt his feelings. You know how fragile Clark's ego is."
Jimmy raised an eyebrow, now even more suspicious than before. "Yeah, Clark's ego is so fragile," he replied sardonically.
Lois just scowled and pushed at his shoulder. "Oh, just … go away. Even better, go watch the elevators, make sure Clark isn't coming. I have some thinking to do."
With a long-suffering sigh, Jimmy did as he was told, leaving Lois alone in her task.
Pulling the keyboard forward, Lois poised her fingers above it, wondering what kind of password Clark might choose. "Smallville," she typed confidently, then hit enter.
Lois furrowed her brow slightly as the "Incorrect Password" message flashed before her eyes. She chewed on her lip before trying again. "Kansas."
When she received the same response, her brow knitted more tightly. She looked worriedly at the screen as she began to type anything that sounded likely.
No, no and triple no.
Lois took a deep breath, trying to stop the desperation that was threatening to well up in the pit of her stomach.
Lois dropped her head into her hands. Why was this so hard?!
Taking another deep breath, Lois forced herself to think. People usually choose passwords that are important to them, right? After all, hers was "Superman" …
Eyes widening, Lois entered her next attempt, almost afraid to see the results …
And just like that, she was in.
Lois stared at the screen for a moment, amazed that she had actually figured out the correct password, but it wasn't long before she remembered what she was trying to do so. She could ponder the ramifications of Clark's password choice later — right now she had an email to delete!
It didn't take Lois more than a moment to find Clark's in-box, but as she retrieved his mail, she blanched again. "No new messages? What do you mean, no new messages?!" she exclaimed. Lois's head shot up and she fixed her eyes on Jimmy, who had stopped in the middle of the aisle and was watching her warily.
"What?" he asked nervously.
"Oh, just get over here." When he sighed and walked around to her side of the desk, she pointed accusingly at Clark's empty in-box. "You said he hadn't checked his mail this morning … where's my message?" she demanded.
With a slight roll of his eyes, Jimmy grabbed the mouse and began opening Clark's folders one by one. "Maybe it got filtered already," he suggested. "What's it called?"
"None of your business," Lois answered quickly, then blushed as her voice came out in a worried squeak. "Wait!" she suddenly exclaimed, grabbing his arm. "That's it!"
Jimmy began chuckling. ""Waht you misssed"? Nice typing, Lois … you must have been really furious or something."
"Or something," she mumbled.
"Well, it looks like he's already read it," Jimmy said apologetically. "This one isn't a filter folder; it's a saved message folder. I don't know whether it hurt his feelings or not, but he obviously wanted to keep it."
"But— But— But you said he hadn't checked his email this morning!" Lois practically wailed.
Jimmy shrugged. "He didn't need to. Remember I told you he and I were working late last night? I emailed him the information he wanted at two in the morning and he replied from home at three. Your message was sent at two-forty-five. He didn't need to read it this morning — he'd already read it last night."
Lois dropped her head onto the desk. Maybe if she waited long enough, someone would tell her that this was all a bad dream.
At a little after one-thirty in the afternoon, Clark walked down the ramp into the newsroom, uncertain as to what kind of reception he was going to get. He had flown over Lois's apartment on his way back from his lunch interview only to find it empty, and the fact that her Jeep was sitting in the Daily Planet's parking garage confirmed that she had made it in just fine. But he couldn't deny that he was more than a little nervous about what she might have to say to him. And what in the world was he going to say to her?
The time he'd spent with Lois last night had been torture, but torture so sweet that he'd gladly go back for more. He still wasn't sure which he was more shocked over, that he'd finally kissed her or that it had taken him so long to snap before he'd done so. It had been, simply speaking, the most amazing kiss of his entire life. It was raw and passionate and filled with promise … and now all he could hope for was that Lois would feel the same way. If not — if she had woken up this morning disgusted by her behavior and completely appalled by his — then instead of last night being the first day of their burgeoning romance, it could end up marking the last day of their close friendship.
Clark sighed. He'd hardly slept a wink last night, despite all his attempts to get Lois out of his system. The only thing that had helped distract him at all had been the fact that Jimmy had emailed him the information he'd needed to justify his investigation. Unfortunately, Jimmy hadn't been the only one who'd emailed him … and instead of getting a head-start on his story, he'd only been able to read Lois's message over and over. The spelling had taken a little work to decipher, but her invitation was clear. It had taken several laps in the Arctic Ocean before the less rational part of his body stopped demanding he return to her apartment to finish what they'd started.
Setting his files down on his desk, Clark furrowed his brow as he noticed his screen saver dancing across his computer screen. Wow, he must have really been distracted this morning — he didn't even remember turning it on.
Glancing over at Lois's desk, he watched for a moment as she sat, eyes closed, rubbing her temples. She clearly hadn't noticed his entrance, and, for a brief moment, he flirted with the possibility of leaving as silently as he'd arrived. But he knew he'd have to deal with this eventually, so after taking a deep breath, he forced himself to face the music. "Um, Lois?" he asked tentatively, approaching her desk. "Are you— How are you feeling?"
A groan was his only response.
"That bad, huh?"
"No … worse."
He looked at her sympathetically. "I'm sorry."
She shook her head slightly then winced from the effort. "Not your fault. My sister's fault. I'm going to kill her."
Clark couldn't help but smile at her ironic tone. "Will there be drinks at the wake?"
Lois snorted at his comment, the sound something between a moan and a laugh, but this time, she looked up at him, clearly very embarrassed. "Were you really at the bar last night?" she asked.
Clark felt almost guilty answering. "Yeah … you called me and asked me to come."
She nodded. "I vaguely remember that." She met his eye again. "And you drove me home?"
He, too, gave a nod. "Yes."
"I vaguely remember that, too," she replied. This time she didn't meet his gaze, and Clark noticed a pink blush rising in her cheeks. "And something about a … peanut butter and jelly sandwich?"
"I didn't think you'd eaten," he explained apologetically, flushing himself. "I was trying to—"
"Sober me up," she finished with a sigh. "Yeah, I vaguely remember that, too."
Clark swallowed, watching her carefully. "And then," he added, knowing that he couldn't avoid the inevitable, "I left."
Lois's blush deepened and her mouth opened, only to close again quickly. "I don't remember that!" she finally blurted out.
Clark blinked. "You don't?"
This time when she met his eyes, a bright smile was plastered on her face. "Nope!" she answered. "Nothing after the sandwich … must have gone right to bed. I assume you showed yourself out?"
"Um … yeah," he responded after a confused pause. "I guess I did."
Lois just looked relieved. "Good," she sighed. Then she shook her head. "Honestly, I can't even understand how I got so drunk in the first place. As far as I can recall, I only had a few drinks!"
"Well, yeah … but two of them were Long Island Iced Teas," Clark pointed out. "At least according to what the bartender said."
She just looked at him, baffled. "But that's exactly what I mean! How could I get so drunk on something called iced tea?"
Clark raised an eyebrow at her question, then noticed Jimmy walking by. "Hey, Jimmy," he called out, waving the young man over to them. "Do you know what's in a Long Island Iced Tea?"
Jimmy shrugged. "Sure, CK … rum, gin, vodka, triple sec … sometimes a little tequila—"
Lois gave another groan. "Oh yeah, there was definitely tequila …"
"All with a little Coke and sour mix to smooth it out," Jimmy continued brightly. Then he laughed. "I remember my friend Tom's girlfriend got really plastered on Long Islands on her 21st birthday … Man, she was so wasted! She was calling all her friends, trying to get them to come to the bar—"
Clark watched as Lois's eyes grew wide. "Um, we got it, Jimmy," he interjected, shooting a quick glance to his clearly mortified partner.
"And she was all over Tom on the dance floor!"
"I said we got it, Jimmy," Clark interjected again.
"Heck, she was even trying to dance on the bar!"
"Jimmy! We got it!" Clark said a lot more loudly, finally cutting him off. Then he noticed Lois had buried her head in her hands. "Whoops, sorry, Lois. Didn't mean to shout."
"Don't worry about it," she mumbled through her hands.
As Jimmy walked away, Clark tried to change the subject. "Um, well … I guess I should get back to my investigation," he said. "I really just came back for some notes that I left here … I have a few more interviews to get to so I'll probably be gone for the rest of the day."
Lois looked more than a little relieved. "Oh, well … you'd better get to that, then," she said, practically pushing him away from her desk. "I've got a lot to catch up on, too. You know me … busy, busy!"
Clark gave her a little smile, but as he walked back to his desk to gather his papers, he couldn't help but furrow his brow in confusion. By all accounts, he knew he should be delighted by this turn of events — he'd been so worried Lois was going to rip him apart for kissing her last night, but instead, she claimed not to even remember it. He was off the hook! He should be happy … really, really happy …
So why in the world was he feeling so disappointed?
Returning home that evening, Lois shut the door behind her and methodically fastened each of the four locks. With a yawn, she dropped her bag onto the floor and tossed her keys on the coffee table, then sunk gratefully into her couch. Home at last.
It had taken most of the day, but she had finally recovered from her hangover, even if she was still tired from the lack of sleep. But even if she was feeling better physically, emotionally she was far from over the events of the previous night. She was positively mortified by her behavior, and the more she remembered, the more embarrassed she became.
Fortunately, Clark hadn't mentioned anything specific about the night before, not even the email she'd sent him, which was something she was very grateful about. Of course, she hadn't given him the chance … when he'd seemed uncomfortable broaching the subject of what had happened when he'd tried to leave her apartment, she'd seen her opening and had pounced on it. Telling Clark that she had no memory of anything after their peanut butter and jelly sandwich had been a stroke of pure genius, if she did say so herself. She'd suspected Clark would be too much of a gentleman to fill in the supposedly missing details, especially since those details included their kiss, and she'd been right.
As her memory suddenly flashed to the kiss in question, however, Lois felt her heart rate pick up and she took a ragged breath. It really had been an amazing kiss … urgent, intense, insistent. Lois closed her eyes and her breath became more shallow. She could almost feel his lips on hers, tasting, probing … and her skin still tingled where he had touched her … his body pressed so tightly against hers … molding itself to her body as if they were—
Gasping, Lois's eyes flew open. This wasn't helping! Reliving that kiss over and over could cause nothing but problems, and she had to stop thinking about it. Clark was her best friend … he'd probably only kissed her because she'd been throwing herself at him all night. It probably hadn't meant anything to him at all …
Still trying to convince herself, Lois noticed the blinking light of her answering machine. Reaching over to her end table, she pressed the button and heard the computerized voice inform her that she had one new message. A second later, her sister's voice filled the apartment.
"Hey, Lois, it's Lucy. I was just calling to see how you're doing after last night. Call me as soon as you get home! I'm dying to know what happened after you left!"
Lucy's voice sounded perky, and she was far too cheerful for Lois's liking. After all, this was all Lucy's fault. It had been *her* birthday, *her* party, and *her* boyfriend who'd made the drinks. And, now that Lois thought about it, she was pretty sure it had been Lucy who had encouraged her to call Clark in the first place!
Lois yanked the phone from its cradle and roughly punched the buttons to dial Lucy's number. After only a ring and a half, Lucy picked up.
"I hate you! How could you let me do this to myself?"
Lucy burst out laughing, obviously not at all impressed by her sister's hatred. "Having a rough day, Lois?"
"Oh, you don't know the half of it."
"Let me guess … headache, nausea, achiness?"
"Try embarrassment, humiliation, mortification."
"Lois, really. Don't you think you're being a little melodramatic? I mean, you were pretty crazy last night, but I've done far worse, I assure you."
"Yeah, but you didn't call your partner and invite him to witness the debacle!"
"Oh!" Lucy laughed in delight. "So that's what this is really about!"
Lois groaned. "What were you thinking, Luce? How could you let me call him?"
"Let you? Let you?! I tried to stop you and you yanked the phone out of my hand. You told me you'd break my fingers if I didn't give it back!"
"I did what?? I don't remember that."
"Shocking," her sister deadpanned. "How much *do* you remember?"
Lois flushed, immediately taken back to the parting kiss she'd shared with Clark. She didn't seem to have any problem recalling *that* in vivid detail. But she couldn't deny there was some fuzziness around other parts of the night …
"I remember plenty!"
Lucy laughed again, obviously enjoying this far too much. "Good, then I want all the details of what happened after you left the bar."
Lois was sure her face was bright red. "There's nothing to tell. Clark brought me home, made sure I was okay, and went back to his place. Alone."
"That's it?" Lucy asked, clearly disappointed.
"That's it," Lois repeated, trying not to feel guilty for hiding the details. "What did you think was going to happen?"
She could almost hear her sister's grin over the phone line. "Gee, Lois, I don't know … do the words 'Hooray! Clark's coming home with me!' ring any bells?"
Lois's jaw dropped. "I didn't say that!"
"Oh, yes, you did!" her sister laughed. "And calling Clark was all your idea. You'd been talking about him all night and suddenly decided that you had to have him there right away."
Lois sputtered, unable to think of a response. She was tempted to deny everything, but Lucy was nearly as stubborn as she was when she believed she was right, and since Lucy had apparently been far more sober than Lois last night, she had the upper hand.
Lucy, however, seemed oblivious to Lois's inner turmoil as she bubbled on. "It was really funny, actually. You kept coming out with these outrageous statements as if they were totally normal. And you've clearly been holding out on me! Why didn't you tell me before that Clark had kissed you? Multiple times, no less! And why do I have to get you drunk to find out that you saw Clark in nothing but a towel?"
Lois gasped. "How do you know about Clark in the towel??"
"You told me!" Her sister chuckled. "Actually, you described it in great detail … painted a fantastic picture, by the way … you even made Jerry blush."
Lois covered her face with her hand. "Oh, God."
"So tell me about all these kisses," Lucy pressed, clearly enjoying this. "You said you'd been kissing him almost since you met … why haven't I heard about this before?"
"It was nothing," Lois protested weakly. "Those kisses were just … subterfuge. We were working."
"Really?" her sister said with a laugh. "Well, last night you weren't working, and there was enough steam to fill up the bar! I've never seen you like that. You were all over him!"
Lois blushed furiously. If that was how Lucy remembered the night, what in the world must Clark think? "That wasn't me," she defended. "That was the alcohol. You never should have let me drink that much. You knew what was in those tea thingies and you let me drink them knowing I thought they were weak!"
"Oh, Lois, you had fun and you know it. Now you're just embarrassed because you finally have to face your feelings for Clark."
"Those weren't *my* feelings! That was just the alcohol talking!"
"From what I could see, there wasn't much talking goin' on," Lucy snorted.
With a low chuckle, Lucy continued. "Look, Sis, I have a lot more experience at being wasted than you do, so let me tell you a little something I've learned along the way. Alcohol doesn't make you do anything you didn't already want to do. It lowers your inhibitions and blurs your judgment, but it doesn't change who you are or what you want. You wanted Clark, you wanted him bad, and you wanted him long before last night. Last night was just the first time you let your guard down long enough to tell him that."
Lois opened her mouth to reply but, for one of the few times in her life, she found herself speechless. She wanted to deny it — and indeed, in the broader scope of things, she *would* argue against some of what her sister was saying — but she couldn't deny the truth in her sister's evaluation of her feelings for Clark. In every memory she had of their time at the bar, the heat generated between them was obvious … and later that night, when she'd been alone with Clark, the heat had only intensified. Her mind may have been clouded by alcohol, but her body had known exactly what it had wanted.
Lucy took her silence for disagreement, however, and continued, almost exasperated. "God, Lois, how do you not see this? Everyone else who sees you two together knows that you're perfect for each other. Why don't you just admit it — Clark makes you happy! And I don't just mean when you're drunk, either."
"I know," Lois sighed, unable to deny it anymore.
"What?" Lucy sounded shocked, as if she hadn't expected her sister to agree, even if the truth was obvious to everyone else. "You know?"
"I know," Lois repeated. "Clark makes me happy. He always has. I … I care about him."
"Just care about him?" Lucy prompted.
"I … I don't know, Lucy! This is all so— I'm just so—"
"No! Well, maybe," she added sheepishly. "I don't know, Lucy! But it doesn't matter. Even if I was, he doesn't feel the same way about me."
Lucy gasped. "Are you insane?? That boy is head over heels for you! If you would just give him the slightest indication that you feel the same way, I'm sure he'd be thrilled."
Lois shook her head. "No … he's not interested."
"He seemed pretty damned interested last night!"
"No, Lucy, really," Lois insisted. "Last year, when we got sprayed with that pheromone spray, he wasn't affected like I was. And this past spring, he told me he loved me but then he took it back … he said he just wanted us to be friends. And, OK, he did seem to respond last night, but how could he not when I was throwing myself at him? I mean, even when he left my apartment, he—" Lois cut off suddenly, her eyes growing wide. "He … he … Ohmigod!"
"What? Lois, what is it?"
Lois gasped as the last piece of the puzzle finally slipped into place. "I just remembered something. Clark … last night … as he was leaving, he said … he said …"
"What?? What did he say??"
But Lois was already lunging for her car keys. "Sorry, Lucy, I gotta go! I gotta find Clark!"
"LOIS!! Wait! You can't just leave without tell—" <Click>
Clark sighed as he walked through his apartment door, pausing only to deposit his file folders in the middle of the coffee table before making his way into the bedroom. It had been a long, hectic day, and he couldn't help but yawn as he pulled off his suit jacket and slipped his loosened necktie out from under his collar. Tossing them each onto the bed, he walked back into the kitchen, unfastening the top button of his shirt and rolling up the cuffs of his sleeves to get more comfortable. He still had some work to do tonight on the story, but at the moment, he didn't even have enough energy to change into sweats.
By any reasonable standards, he knew he should have been energized by everything he had accomplished that day. His story on the Congressman was coming together very nicely, and he'd spent the entire day gathering information, interrupted only by the occasional Superman rescue. He was positive that Perry was going to be beyond delighted with what he'd come up with. Yet instead of being able to immerse himself in the excitement of chasing down elusive leads, he couldn't seem to stop thinking about his partner.
He knew he should be relieved that Lois wasn't upset with him for kissing her last night. He'd been worried all morning that she was gearing up to skin him alive for taking advantage of her, but as it turned out, she claimed not even to remember it. Clark made a sound of disgust. No wonder Lois didn't have any interest in him outside of friendship. The single most amazing kiss he'd ever experienced in his life, and it hadn't even made an impression on her!
Grumbling over the entire situation, Clark thought back to how happy Lois had been last night when she'd been drinking. He'd never thought of himself as the type of guy who would want to drown his sorrows, but right now, he wished he could get drunk, too. Maybe it would give him something to do besides grind his teeth in frustration over his inability to attract the only woman he'd ever truly fallen for.
But, of course, just like having Lois return his feelings, intoxication was only a fantasy. He was pretty sure that even if he were to consume an entire bottle of liquor, he would never be able to get drunk. His body just didn't seem to work that way, at least not while his powers were intact. And he wasn't about to expose himself to Kryptonite just to find out whether his ability to process alcohol as if it were water was part of his natural physiology. Still, a glass of wine did sound good to him right now. Even if he wasn't affected by the alcohol, he could still enjoy the taste. And maybe nursing a glass while he organized his story notes would help him to relax, hopefully soothing the restless feeling that had been plaguing him all day.
Walking over to his wine rack, Clark considered his choices, finally selecting a bottle of white wine. He'd found this particular bottle up last month at his favorite wine shop and he had been looking forward to opening it for the last few weeks. Of course, he'd also hoped he could open it with Lois, sharing it with her over a candlelight dinner and impressing her with his vast expertise on the subject… Clark snorted derisively. Yeah, right … like *that* was ever going to happen.
Holding the bottle out in front of him, Clark blew on it gently, intending to chill it slightly. Red wines were best served warm, but he always liked a little chill on his whites. It seemed to bring out the best flavor. As he did so, however, he couldn't help but think about Lois once again.
God, she was sexy last night … the way she'd been nuzzling against his skin, running her fingers through his hair, and blowing enticingly in his ear. Forget romantic daydreams of impressing her with his wine collection; her behavior last night was straight out of some of his much more primal fantasies. She'd been dressed to kill in that short black skirt and tight red shirt, but even more seductive was the way she'd constantly been touching him, molding herself to his body and exploring it with her hands. And, as if dancing with her hadn't been enough — watching her rotate her hips in the most erotic way as she continuously brushed against him — to then have her kiss her way up his neck, then tease that highly sensitive area around his ear with the tip of her tongue …
His eyes glazing over at the memory, Clark completely lost track of the fact that he had intended to only put a light chill on the wine bottle and that the liquid inside was beginning to freeze and expand upwards. With a loud pop, the cork suddenly shot out, jerking Clark from his fantasy.
He yelped loudly as he noticed that wine had began to spill out of the top of the bottle and, on instinct, he put his mouth over the opening, gulping down the liquid before any more of it splashed on his floor. By the time he recovered his senses, he realized he'd consumed almost the entire bottle, save for the iced bottom layer.
Clark groaned as he stared at the mostly empty bottle and the puddle of wine at his feet. How in the world could he have let that happen? What a rookie mistake, to lose control of his powers so easily! He sighed heavily. Just more proof of what Lois could do to him.
Shaking his head at his ineptitude, Clark retrieved a dishtowel to mop up the mess, only to discover that his shirt, too, was now dotted with drops from the spray. "Great! What else can go wrong tonight?" he asked, rolling his eyes. Tossing the wet towel into the sink, he stalked back to his wine rack for another bottle to open — red this time, one that *wouldn't* need to be chilled — and this time, he got it into the glass.
Bringing the nearly full bottle with him into the living room, Clark set it and his wine glass down on the coffee table before flopping himself onto the couch. He stared at his story notes for a long moment, trying to convince himself to start typing them up, but he knew it was a losing battle. There was only one thing on his mind tonight, and the only thing it had to do with typing was the astonishing — yet totally sexy — email Lois had sent him last night. Ha! Yet another thing she apparently didn't remember.
Clark picked up his wine glass and sank further into the couch, brooding. After a day and a half with next to no sleep, he was feeling reckless and restless, yet he didn't even feel like flying. It, like everything else in his life, would only remind him of Lois … and the fact that she wasn't here with him. It was beyond frustrating! He loved her so much, but his constant thinking about her only served to remind him of what he couldn't have. And the fact that she didn't even remember their kiss, or the feelings she'd professed to have in her email, only frustrated him more.
He was convenient for her, Clark decided as he drained his glass and poured another. He was safe … someone she could play with when she wanted some affection, but once the moment was over, she could just conveniently forget about it, pretend it had never happened. Yet his own feelings of desire only continued to build … and he didn't even have the courage to tell her how he really felt.
Lois fidgeted as she stood outside Clark's door, trying to get up the courage to knock. She knew he was home — she had just peeked through the glass window on the side of his door and had seen him sitting on the couch, staring off into space — which only made the temptation to bolt even stronger.
What in the world was she going to say to him? When she'd left her apartment a few minutes before, the memory of their kiss last night had made it hard to stick to the posted speed limits, but now that she was here, her more rational side was starting to make itself known.
Talking to Lucy had made her confront the fact that she did have feelings for Clark — very strong feelings, both emotional and physical — but until a short time ago, she would have sworn that he didn't feel the same way. Oh sure, she'd often seen a certain look in his eye when he'd watched her, a look that conveyed a wonderful mixture of affection and desire, yet until tonight, she'd been able to rationalize it away. Clark couldn't be attracted to her … he was her partner and best friend, and he always seemed to be in complete control of his emotions.
Yet last night, as he'd left her apartment, she'd seen that control disappear. Clearly unable to take another moment of her teasing, he'd pinned her to the wall and captured her mouth in what could only be described as the most incredible kiss of her entire life. When she'd woken this morning and remembered it, she'd tried to rationalize it away as a manipulation — she'd been blocking his path to the door and he'd only kissed her to placate her, to get her out of the way so he could leave. But now that she remembered the words surrounding the kiss, how Clark had confessed that he liked her — he *really* liked her — and his breathless reassurance that he would be more than willing to continue once she was sober, she knew that it was more than just a kiss to him. She couldn't deny it anymore.
But instead of letting him know that she, too, was interested in being more than friends, what had she done? She'd lied to him about what she remembered, just to save herself from embarrassment. Essentially denied that the kiss, or even the email that she'd later sent him, had been anything more than a drunken game to her.
No, it was time to come clean, to admit that she did remember what she'd done last night, and while it was true that she hadn't exactly been in control of her actions, she hadn't done anything more than what she'd been wanting to do for months now. And maybe, just maybe, Clark could be convinced to finally admit his feelings for her, as well.
Before she could lose her courage, Lois lifted her hand and knocked sharply on the door.
Straining to hear sounds inside the apartment, Lois bit her lip as she waited for Clark to respond, finally sighing in relief as she heard his footsteps approach. She pasted a nervous smile on her face as the door swung open.
"Hi, Clark," she said sheepishly. "Um … can I come in?"
To her surprise, Clark just gave a short, humorless laugh. Shaking his head almost ruefully, he gestured broadly with his arm, sweeping it towards the open apartment. "Like I could say no."
Furrowing her brow slightly at his odd response, Lois nevertheless accepted his invitation and followed him down the landing into the apartment, shutting the door behind her. "I hope I'm not, uh, interrupting anything," she said, knowing full well she was stalling.
Clark stood next to his coffee table, watching her. "Nothing that I can't continue later," he responded. "I'm good at that, you know … dropping everything for you."
Lois felt her eyes widen at his response. His tone wasn't harsh, but the words had a bite to them that she wasn't used to hearing from him. Still, he didn't seem angry … more like, self-deprecating? "Clark, are you OK?" she asked in concern, taking a few steps towards him. As she got closer, however, she found herself blinking in surprise as she caught a definite whiff of alcohol. Glancing around the apartment, she noticed the partially full wine bottle on his coffee table and what looked to be an empty one lying on its side on his kitchen table. She looked at him in amazement. "Have you been drinking?"
Clark picked up his nearly empty wine glass and downed the last of it. He motioned to her with the empty glass. "Yes, I have," he said resolutely, "and I'd offer you a glass, but I have a feeling it's the last thing you need after last night."
Lois cringed slightly at his offer and placed one hand on her stomach in response. "No, thank you … you're right, it's the last thing I want."
That earned her a slight smile and she thought she saw him relax a bit. "Yeah, I thought so. Do you mind if I …?" He nodded towards the bottle.
Growing more amazed by the second, she could only gesture helplessly. "Go ahead." She watched as he poured himself another glass, then stared, astounded, as he recklessly gulped it down. "Clark," she asked carefully. "Are you drunk?"
"I wish," he muttered, setting the glass back on his table. "I keep trying, but sure enough, no dice."
"Why are you trying?"
He just shook his head and began pacing, clearly restless and agitated. "Because it's been a long, *frustrating* day," he answered, throwing his hands up in the air.
Lois swallowed as she watched him, stalking around like a caged tiger. His hair was mussed, his shirt was rumpled, his body language was unlike anything she'd ever seen from him … yet she felt almost breathless from the attraction she felt. "And why … are you frustrated?" she forced herself to ask.
Clark stopped pacing, looking almost accusatory as he stood in front of her. "I'm frustrated because even with my story coming together so well, I can't stop thinking about you," he burst out.
Lois's eyes widened. "You can't?"
His eyes blazed and his breathing became accelerated as he worked himself up. "And I'm frustrated because I couldn't get a wink of sleep last night because I kept reliving everything that happened between us!"
She swallowed convulsively. "You couldn't?"
"And … And … I'm frustrated because I had the most amazing kiss of my entire life last night, and you don't even remember it!"
"And for once, just *once*," he went on, his voice continuing to rise. "I wish *I* could get drunk enough to summon the courage to tell you how I really feel!"
Lois's breath caught in her throat, and she tried to stop her heart from pounding. She took a step towards him, until they were almost touching. "How *do* you really feel?" she asked breathlessly, looking up into his eyes.
Clark stared at her for a long moment, his chest rising and falling quickly after his declaration. "Like this," he finally replied as he cupped her face in his hands and possessively lowered his mouth to hers.
It only took a moment for the shock to wear off, but Lois didn't waste any time once it had. Winding her arms up between them, she tangled her fingers in his hair and pulled him even more closely to her. As their lips met again and again, Lois felt a thrill like she'd never experienced before travel through her and, as she heard Clark moan low in his throat, she couldn't help but whimper from the pleasure of it all. The kiss was just as passionate as she remembered it being last night, but this time, now that she was sober enough to fully participate, she was enjoying it even more.
When they finally pulled apart, Lois felt herself breathing erratically, and from the way Clark's chest was heaving against hers, she knew the same was true of him. "Oh, God, Clark," she gasped, resting her forehead against his as she clung to him. "I wish you weren't drunk."
"Why?" he asked, just as breathless.
"Because … Because I came here to tell you that I remember what you said last night, and that I do still want you. But you were so good to me when I'd been drinking … I can't take advantage of you now."
With another moan, Clark captured her mouth again, his lips teasing her until she felt her knees go weak. "Lois?" he whispered huskily as he finally pulled back.
"Take advantage of me."
As their mouths met once more, Lois knew that there was still a lot to say … confessions to make, declarations of their feelings. But she also knew that these conversations would best be held while they were sober. And right now, she was much too intoxicated by his kisses to talk.
THE END :)
Comments welcome and appreciated!
Annie and Kathy