By Sara <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Submitted: July, 2003
Summary: Lois is about to marry Lex, but serious doubts are setting in. Could it be because she suddenly realizes she loves a certain partner and best friend? Find out what she decides to do about it in this "House of Luthor" rewrite.
This story is dedicated to Kaethel, who received an email from a complete stranger asking her to BR a story and was amazingly encouraging, flattering and helpful. You're the best, Kaethel!
Thanks also to all the people on the boards, whose comments really encouraged me to keep writing, and special thanks to Erin Klingler, who was a great GE, making me blush with her comments and fixing everything she could find that needed fixing. :) Greatly appreciated! Thank you!
This is my first fanfic. Any and all feedback welcomed and appreciated.
I can't stop, can't fight, can't resist it When the wrong one loves you right (Oh-oh-oh-oh-yeah) Can't run — can't hide — can't say no When the wrong one loves you right (Oh-oh-oh-oh) When the wrong one loves you right.
How can I walk away, when the feeling's so strong? I know you're where I belong They say I let my heart make up my mind That's why I'll never say goodbye I'll never say goodbye
Extract from 'When the wrong one loves you right," taken from the album "A New Day Has Come," by Celine Dion
Lois Lane stood in front of the full- length mirror in the antechamber of the LexCorp Chapel, unaware of her surroundings as she whimpered softly to herself. She barely registered the knock that came on the door before an annoying feminine voice trilled, "Ten Minutes, Mrs. Luthor!" She wailed quietly at the unwelcome reminder. What was she going to do?
There wasn't an inch of her that hadn't been tucked, pinned, pressed, brushed, rubbed, pinched or primped. She had just been through the most harrowing makeover of her life — she had imagined, while standing there like a mannequin, herself as a vast, colourless wall and the various beauticians as decorators, slapping lipstick and eyeliner and silk and hairspray and pantyhose on her every which way.
She, like the wall, had stood there, motionless, until they had stepped back and cried out in delight at the vision they had just created. They had ushered her up in front of the mirror and then stepped back, as if they were afraid to mar her reflection with their ordinary-ish looks. She had then looked on herself and had immediately gotten a lump in her throat. Then, upon noticing the unshed tears in her eyes, they had clucked around her for a few minutes more, then had retreated, telling her that it was just a classic case of bridal nerves.
But, unfortunately, Lois knew that this was not the case. If it were simple nerves, she wouldn't be still in front of the mirror, stuck to the floor, appalled at the sight that confronted her.
Had she voiced the fact that she thought she looked awful, everybody would have wondered at how insecure she was. They would have bustled around her, reassuring her that she had never looked better. But empty compliments would not appease her this time. Nothing could have made up for the sight that had met her in that mirror.
She had looked directly into her own face and had been shocked to discover that it was the face of a stranger. Not since her parents' divorce had she felt so mixed up, but this was much worse than the hollowness which had swallowed her in that crazy time, because even back then she had known who she was. She had felt angry and betrayed — a maelstrom of emotions had consumed her. She hadn't felt confused at all — even at the tender age of twelve, she had been rebellious to the point of leaving home — in fact, the only reason why she *hadn't* left home was because Lucy had needed her.
But now… now it was different. She didn't know who she was anymore. A while back she would have sworn that she would never marry, never resign herself to a life of being somebody's *wife*, but here she was, ten minutes from becoming Mrs. Lois Luthor.
She frowned. That name didn't seem right somehow… She banished the thought from her mind and forced herself to deal with more pressing issues. She sighed dejectedly. Perhaps it wasn't too illogical that this was happening to her. After all, once people would have sworn that men couldn't fly…
No! No, stop thinking that way. That path led to Old Friend Pain and Lois had had quite enough of him for the time being. Back to Lex, back to safety… Lex was safe — he couldn't hurt her.
She mused at her strange reasoning. Was that the nicest thing she had to say about her husband-to-be — that he was safe? Charming, charismatic, suave, fascinating, magnetic … her mind scrolled through the list of adjectives, each of which could be used to describe Lex, but 'safe' was still the paramount description in her mind.
Why was that? Surely there had to be more to the man she was about to marry than the fact that he was safe? And besides, what did that mean? She knew that Lex wasn't a saint — just a few days ago, she had seen him nearly lose all his composure, outside the wreck of the Daily Planet, as he accused Jack of arson. He had scared her then, for a minute — she had gotten a glimpse of his temper and it had unsettled her.
But perhaps her reckoning of 'safe' had nothing to do with composure? Lois had reached the decision that she didn't love Lex a while ago — why, so, was she wearing his ring and about to give him her hand in marriage? And why did she have to get a rebuff from Superman before accepting Lex's proposal?
Her mind flashed briefly back to the evening a few days ago when she had practically pledged her undying love to the Man of Steel and he had retorted with a healthy dose of scorn and cynicism. That gibe about her robe… he had made her feel so cheap — worthless, as if she was nothing to him. And the way he had sighed when she had told him she loved him… she had felt like some immature, naive schoolgirl with a crush on a movie star. *He* had made her feel that way.
Why was it, so, that she still loved him, still ached for him, after he had rejected her so cruelly? Lying in bed, night after night, Lois had tried to convince herself that she hated him, never wanted to see him, speak to him again. But it didn't last. She supposed that that was just the nature of love — you couldn't just shut it off, or pretend it never happened. And you could never, ever settle for just friendship.
But was that entirely true? After all, Clark had managed for a long time… Clark. She closed her eyes, unprepared for the barrage of emotions that came with that name and furious with herself for feeling like that. Clark Kent — the other man who had hurt her. His scornful tones rang in her ears.
//You look right at the guy and you still have no idea who he really is!//
//Not like life at the Planet, dull and boring!//
//Go ahead, Lois, get in bed with the devil!//
//Nothing's free with Lex Luthor. With him, you *always* pay.//
//I'm not the one doing the driving Lois, you are.//
//You're an investigative reporter, Lois, *investigate!*//
Clark had ruined any chance of friendship between them. He had been so… so… spiteful, sarcastic… even malicious. He had behaved like a jealous, narcissistic boyfriend, something that she would never have expected of him. His eyes had been so cold, so unlike every other time she had looked into them. They were, undoubtedly his best feature — those deep, russet eyes, the same ones she had called 'mud brown,' in comparison to Superman's. Of course, at that time, she hadn't *really* paid much attention, hadn't seen the warmth, the depth, the comfort, the love … she definitely hadn't seen the love, that same emotion which had been so painfully unambiguous that day in Centennial Park.
Clark's zealous declaration of love had come as a complete shock. Oh, sure, Lois had suspected that he felt something slightly more than friendship for her — an attraction, a spark, maybe. But love? No, she had never imagined him to be in love with her. And yet, somehow, when he was telling her, she had believed him. It had been the look in his eyes. He had been putting everything on the line for her, and she, in turn, had been careful not to hurt him when she turned him down.
Of course, even when she was trying to be gentle, she *had* hurt him. Terribly. She had seen it in his eyes, eyes that would haunt her in many a dream. Oceans of hurt. Years, decades, millenniums of hurt. Hurt that she had inflicted. And yet, she had still pressed ahead, twisting the dagger she had undoubtedly stuck in his heart — not so much in his heart but in his hopes, dreams — by asking him to contact Superman for her.
//Real subtle, Lane, // she castigated herself bitterly. It didn't take a rocket scientist to figure out what she intended to say to Superman — why did she have to torture him by first throwing his heartfelt avowal of love back in his face and then asking him to contact another man for her, a man who she intended on baring her soul to?
Smooth. She was really smooth. And in the end it had all been for nothing. Superman had done the exact same to her that she had done to Clark — he had broken her heart. She sympathised with Clark — she knew exactly what he was going through. Except, perhaps, she was having a harder time of it than he — she had… no, *still* really idolised Superman, and although Clark had told her he loved her she was sceptical about it. After all, who could *really* love her, with all his heart and soul, mordant, cynical being that she was? Even her parents had never loved her completely, so why should a man with whom she had no real ties to and whom she had known for a far less length of time?
//And what about Lex? // that annoying little daemon asked. //Does *he* love you? //
Lois pondered the question. Lex… he had told her often enough, that was true, but each time he said it, it sounded faintly casual to her ears, as if he were talking about a dear friend or a loyal dog — he had never sounded particularly passionate to her. Whereas Clark — she hadn't any doubt that he meant what he said, even if she was sceptical as to how much anybody could love her.
No, Clark had meant it. Then, that little voice piped up again, why did you turn him down? Lois contemplated that question. Why *had* she turned him down? She had been listening to him telling her sweetly, ardently, all the time completely mesmerised, until she had looked in his eyes. That was the clincher. She had seen such unbelievable devotion in his gaze that it had scared her momentarily and that was all it had taken for her petty little doubts to set in and for her wall to go up.
//He's only saying that to get you away from Lex… he doesn't really mean it… he's a man, isn't he? That means he's going to hurt you if you cave… if you try to have a relationship, it'll bomb and you'll have lost your best friend … remember Daddy, remember Paul, remember Clau…//
She hadn't been able to bear it past that point and had banished the voices, telling Clark that she liked him, respected him, and did love him… as a friend.
//Liar…// the voices taunted, but she quashed them immediately. Lying? Her? She wasn't lying! She *didn't* love Clark, *couldn't* love Clark — the very *idea* was impossible! He was her partner, her colleague, her best friend, nothing more, nothing less! Oh, sure, he was attractive — she'd have to be *dead* not to notice that — and she cared about him, yes — platonically, but that was as far as it went! There was no way on earth that she loved him.
//Whatever you say, Lois…// the voice sighed irritatingly.
It was beginning to sound awfully like Clark when he was teasing her. She always pretended to be annoyed, but secretly she loved their sparring matches. //Loved? // No! Not… loved, exactly — enjoyed, maybe, Lois back-pedalled hastily. But it was true… at the back of her mind, she knew it to be true. She loved their sparring matches, their constant teasing, their bets, the time they spent together on assignment, when they spent an evening together, just eating pizza and watching a movie. Because he was just such a good friend. They meshed well together, both as working partners and as friends.
But that was it, she protested weakly. Our relationship was purely platonic.
//Oh, give it up, Lane! // The little voice was tired of being squashed, and ready to give its recipient a good talking-to. //You love him! //
"I don't!" Lois cried out desperately.
//Oh, yes you do; you always have and you always will, so stop fooling yourself, woman! Just friends… how could you think you were just friends? You were never that, Lois! //
"Yes we are… were," she admitted softly. Clark had destroyed their friendship — the same camaraderie that had seemed so strong, so solid, something tangible and lasting.
'Seemed' was the right word, she reflected cynically. Surely if they had been as close as she said they were, her impending marriage — getting closer by the second, she grimaced bleakly — would not have split them up? Surely, if Clark cared about her so much, he would not have been so cruel to her, both at Perry's retirement party and afterwards — surely he would have wanted to salvage what was left of their partnership?
//You're expecting too much of him, Lois; he's not a saint!//
"What?" She was stunned. She wasn't expecting too much of Clark — all she had wanted was her best friend back!
//Yes, but Clark wants to be more than friends,// the voice piped up again.
"Well, yes, but why couldn't he have settled for *just* friendship?" she argued.
//He *did* settle for 'just friendship,' Lois, for more than a year! Remember, he said, 'I have been in love with you for a very long time," meaning that he must have adored you from a distance for ages!//
"But he knew I didn't have those feelings for him!" Lois quarreled.
//Did he? I don't know, Lois. Do women who profess to have no feelings for a man respond when he kisses you? Do they desperately try to keep the other at arm's length? Do they…//
"No, stop!" Lois shook her head wildly. She was fighting a losing battle, and she knew it.
// 'Just friends' don't kiss each other passionately to protect a cover story and actually like it! 'Just friends' don't pat the other's chest when she's teasing him! 'Just friends' don't swear undying love for the other! 'Just friends' don't wildly try to convince themselves that they're 'just friends'! Face it, woman, you love him — and you've pushed him away. //
"All right, all right!" Lois cried bitterly, "I give up!" She was finally admitting to herself that she wanted to be more than 'just friends' with Clark.
It was just her luck that she was too late.
Her lower lip quivered and she set it firmly. She may be having an identity crisis but on *no* account was she about to turn into a weak, helpless woman! She looked at her reflection and her lip trembled again. A sob escaped her and she steeled herself. It would never do to cry and ruin her make-up and have to go through an ordeal like the last one all over again.
"Lois Luthor," she began. Her lip felt like it was doing an Irish jig.
"Lois Luthor-Lane," she tried, sniffling despondently.
"Lois Lane-Luthor," she wailed. Forget jig, her lip was performing in the Riverdance.
"Lois Lane…" She gasped as a new idea occurred to her. "… Kent." She scrunched up her face. Why did Fate have to be so cruel? That was the only name that sounded… right.
"Lois Lane!" she finally whimpered, sniffling again. Her mother came up to stand beside her, her arm around Lois's shoulder.
"Oh, sweetie, if you're having doubts…"
"It's too late!" Lois wept.
"It's never too late," her mother reassured her.
Lois stared at her mother as that last thing sunk in. It's never too late… maybe there *was* a small possibility… if he was willing… if he hadn't changed his mind… maybe he would let her back in… Could it happen? The little daemons resurfaced, but Lois beat them down. She wanted to have faith, courage in this. Maybe this time, if she leapt in before checking the water level, the pool would be deep enough… maybe there was a change… She was aware of the flickering emotions playing about her face; her mother's gaze displayed a certain amount of fear. Frankly, Lois was surprised as to how concerned her mother seemed — she wasn't usually this supportive. However, it seemed Ellen Lane was in a funny mood today, for she suddenly spoke up.
"Lois, please, if you think you're making the wrong decision, stop it *now*, before it's too late!" Ellen had a funny expression on her face, sort of like… desperation? Lois stared at her, unsure. Her mother sighed.
"Did I ever tell you how I met your father?" Ellen's tone was gentler now, almost wistful, and by her expression, Lois knew that she was in another place, another time.
"I was the youngest nurse on staff, fresh from medical school. I was determined to make my way in the world. My own mother, your namesake, died when I was thirteen years old, and my father never fully recovered. He became an alcoholic, and while he drank, I lived in fear. He was always very violent after a night out at the pub — he used to blow up at me for the slightest thing. I was an only child, as you now — I had nobody to turn to. Finally, when I graduated, and was a fully trained nurse, I was free at last, free from him and the shackles he had placed on me. But I had other scars, scars that were purely emotional. I was very insecure, shy — you could almost call me reclusive. So when your father displayed an interest in me, I was flattered. The great Samuel Lane, a legend in his own right, actually wanted me, mousy little protege that I was!"
At this point, Ellen's expression changed, suddenly become bitter.
"I clung to him like a limpet clings to a rock, determined not to let him go. To be honest, I was terrified — terrified that if I lost him, I would never, ever have another chance at happiness. I would be another failure, just like Dad always said."
Her mother's voice was quiet now, almost ashamed.
"We were married six months later." Her mother's lips twisted sardonically.
Lois was surprised. In all the times that Ellen had derided, scorned, mocked Sam Lane, she had never told her about how they met, and now that she finally had, Lois could understand why. It was too late for her mother — not for her. She still had the power to change. It was her choice.
"Lois, sweetie, all my life, I've listened to my head instead of my heart, and if I hadn't been so foolhardy and listened to the right organ, I'd have realised that all the time it was screaming at me to slow down. Don't you make the same mistake that I did. You listen to your heart — it's the best way of knowing what your head is saying."
She glanced at her mother. The fear in her eyes, which she had spotted earlier, was still there, and only dissipated when Lois straightened up suddenly.
"You're right, Mother. It's not too late — to call off the wedding at least — I can only pray it won't be too late to… but that doesn't matter right now." Her shoulders slumped abruptly. "But what about Lex? What will I say to him?"
Her mother smiled. "Go, honey, I'll take care of him."
"But, Mother, are you sure…"
"Yes?" Ellen's tone was indignant.
"Are you sure… you'll be able to handle it?"
"Remember, dear, you're talking to the woman who spent half her life with your father. If I could handle that, I can handle anything!" Her mother sniffed scornfully, and got a watery smile for her efforts. Lois gave a final sniff.
"Go, then — and Lois?" her mother asked as Lois turned away. "Good luck."
Another watery smile, and Lois was gone.
Lois Lane was having a bad day. To figure out, ten minutes or so from your wedding, that you didn't want to go through with it, that you loved your best friend, and then to escape from your ex-fiance's penthouse to try and make your way over to Clinton Street, all-in-all didn't make for the best time.
She had been unable to secure a cab and had arrived at the bus stop as the vehicle was pulling away from the kerb. She had yelled and waved, but the driver had obviously not been prepared to pick up a crazy woman in a wedding dress waving a bouquet of flowers at him. Then, as she stood on the pavement and yelled obscenities at the retreating bus, a truck had driven through a pile of stagnant water directly in front of her, spraying her immaculate dress with mud and drenching her into the bargain. When her throat was raw from yelling, she had stalked off in exasperation and had met directly with a rose bush outside the nearby florist's, and her lacy gown had gotten caught in the thorns. Incensed beyond belief, she had tore wildly at the gown and it had come away from the bush. Unfortunately for Lois, it had left half of the skirt behind, slashing it so that it was barely decent. Leaving a flag of white silk waving merrily from the offending plant, she had stormed off.
A couple of blocks later, she met a building site teeming with workers. She had groaned, then gritted her teeth and walked proudly past, ignoring the crass comments the amoebas posing as men had thrown at her. As she walked on, she had realised that she was still wearing the ridiculously overdone veil and had ripped it off her head <taking a few tendrils of hair with her in the process> and deposited it into the nearest garden…
… straight into the jaws of an enormous Doberman. The brute had clearly taken offence at this and had sprung after her, barking his ugly head off. Lois had never had a great love for dogs, and this had been terrifying. She had screamed and twisted her heel and attempted to run away. Fortunately, instead of ripping her throat out, the beast had gotten distracted by a passing squirrel and had left her with her neck, if not her dignity, intact.
Then, as if that wasn't enough, the heel had broken on one of her shoes and she had twisted her ankle. Kicking off her other shoe, she had limped her way for another two blocks. Just as she was thinking that things couldn't possibly get any worse, the heavens opened and she got soaked.
But Lois could have dealt with all of that if Fate had allowed her just one break. If, as she reached his apartment, the lights hadn't been out, the door hadn't been locked and the spare key had been under the mat. If he had been home, she would have been able to cope with her horrendous day, maybe even joke about it. But he wasn't.
Lois turned to leave, a few stray tears making their way down her face, and stopped. She wiped fiercely at her eyes. If the universe was going to be so difficult, then she would just stay here, by his door until he came home. She sank into a sitting position, leaned her head back against the wall, and prepared herself for a long wait.
*Twenty minutes earlier*
Superman writhed in pain as the poisonous rays of the Kryptonite reached him. Every second in that cage was torture — his head was splitting open, his bones felt as though they were on fire — but worst of all was the pain in his heart.
Right now, somewhere in the mansion above him, the woman he loved was getting ready for her wedding. She was dressing in a wedding gown — for another man. She was making herself beautiful — though she doesn't have to try very hard — for another man. And not just any man, oh no! The single most evil creature that Clark could ever remember coming across. The vile scum that seemed to have no soul, no moral boundaries. The man whom Clark suspected of multiple crimes, the least of which was arson. The only man who he could honestly say he hated.
Lois Lane's soon-to-be husband.
That fact, the fact that Lois was marrying Lex Luthor, should have been enough to make Clark hate her, despise her, never want to see her again. He *wanted* to, he really did. In fact, night after night, he tried to convince himself that he did.
But every morning, without fail or variation, when he got up and walked into his living room and her smiling face greeted him from behind the cool glass of his picture frame, he fell in love with her all over again. In some ways, that was worse than knowing she was marrying someone — someone other than him. The knowledge that he would love her his entire life, without limit… the knowledge that soon enough, he would be breaking his own heart by coveting another man's wife. The aching realization that this pain, this excruciating thing called love, was never going to fade, that he would hurt this way for the rest of his life… that was undoubtedly worse.
He heard a hush in the room above him and groaned. This undoubtedly meant that Luthor had taken his place at the altar. He was ready to become Lois's husband, and Clark was powerless to stop him.
Or was he? With an effort, Clark stared at the key, which was lying on one of the barrels in front of him. Obviously, Luthor believed that the Man of Steel had a will of cotton wool; otherwise surely he wouldn't have left the key in full view? Well, Clark would just prove him wrong. Drawing on every ounce of his strength, he ran into the bars.
Oh, the agony! The poisonous green rock seared into his skin, imprinting its mark upon him. He gritted his teeth and tried again.
Only the thought of what was happening upstairs kept him going on, doggedly trying to reach the keys which Luthor had so casually dropped on the barrel. He had to get out of here. He wasn't sure what he would do once he succeeded; after all, Lois had made her feelings perfectly plain on the issue. He, like the lovesick fool he was, had bared his soul, his feelings to her, and she had thrown them back in his face. He had tried to warn her, time and time again, as to how evil Luthor was, but she simply wouldn't listen. She, though doing it unwittingly, had stabbed a knife in his heart and twisted it, opening a Lois-sized hole only she would ever be able to fill. But it didn't matter now. All he wanted, needed, was to get out of this cage and somehow stop, or at least delay, the wedding. Maybe Perry and Jimmy could help.
Somehow, he managed to get close enough to the barrel to reach out and grasp the keys and unlock the cage.
Weakly, he managed to change from Superman into Clark and made it up the stairs in time to hear the first strains of the Wedding March playing on the organ. Praying that he would not be too late, he rounded the corner and…
… halted, stunned. There was a halt in the music, next thing he heard the two big double doors at the end of the hall open. He stayed behind the wall, hoping against hope that…
Ellen Lane's voice, soft and discreet.
"I'm sorry, Lex, but there has been a… complication. The wedding is off."
There was a strangled gasp, and next moment Luthor's slick voice cut through the air.
"What is the meaning of this?" he asked dangerously.
"Well, Lex, it's quite simple." Ellen Lane's voice had switched from gentle to frosty in the pace of a few seconds and now would have cut glass. "It's hard to have a wedding when the bride is missing."
When Luthor spoke next, his tone was of quiet disbelief.
"Lois is missing?"
"Yes." Ellen's tone was matter-of-fact, as if her daughters ran away from their weddings on a regular basis, which, Clark mused, considering Lois's family, wasn't that hard to believe. "She said that she had forgotten something about five minutes ago, and I haven't seen her since."
"Well, what is everybody standing around for?" Luthor roared. "Find her! Now!"
Clark backed away steadily. If his guess was right, in about two seconds a horde of people were going to emerge, all bent on finding the runaway bride, and he sure didn't want to be there when they did. His head was spinning. Lois was missing? Where could she be? Why did she run? What happened? Where would he find her?
Clark set off at a run. He wasn't sure where he was going with no superpowers, but he was determined to find Lois, and he was sure he knew where to look. How hard would it be to find one woman in an over conspicuous <he hadn't seen it but, knowing Luthor, it was sure to be> wedding dress?
An hour later, Clark was heading for his apartment, ready to scream. He had scoured the entire city looking for Lois, but his feeble attempts had been uselessly futile. He was conceding defeat and just wanted to get back home and talk to Perry and Jimmy. Maybe they had an idea about where to look.
Clark frowned as he approached his apartment. There looked to be some puffy, white thing outside his apartment. What could it be? He gasped as he drew closer, and then quickened his pace. Of all the places…
"Lois?" he questioned, halting in front of her. She looked up quickly and rose shakily to her feet. She was a mess. Her dress was ripped and stained, her eyes were red-rimmed, her hair was sticking up in all directions, her shoulders were slumped and she was barefoot, and yet to him she had never looked better.
"Why did you -"
"Clark," she began at the same time.
They froze for a moment, then laughed uncertainly. Clark looked at her, the woman he loved more than life itself, and smiled tenderly. He wasn't sure about why she was here, or what had happened, but somehow, he knew that everything would be all right.
He opened his door and ushered her in.
Lois Lane was having difficulty with her mood right about now. All at once, she wanted to burst into hysterical sobs, fly into a raging temper, shout for joy, sigh in relief and throw her arms around her best friend and kiss him passionately. For a long time. Fortunately for her <and maybe for him>, she did not do any of the above. Rather, she walked into Clark's apartment, her hands twisting around each other as she did so.
The reason her hands were practically in paroxysms was because out of all of the emotions listed above, the paramount one in her mind was fear. Clingy, absorbing, fear. And the reason she was afraid?
When she had been standing in front of the mirror at Lex's penthouse, she had been thinking about Clark-at- work, or teasing-Clark, or being- teased-by-Clark, or watching-Lethal- Weapon-with-Clark, or eating-pizza- with-Clark. She had even thought briefly about kissing-Clark. But, much as that thought both thrilled and spooked her at the same time, that was not why she was scared.
No, the reason why she was scared was more… well, more *scary* than that. In all her memories of Clark, she had never thought about Clark- in-the-park-swearing-undying-love-to-her. Or Clark-telling-her-that-he- missed-her. Sure, her daemons had stirred up memories of go-on-Lois- get-in-bed-with-the-devil- Clark, and you're-an-investigative-reporter- Lois-investigate!- Clark, but even those thoughts, obnoxious as they were, had not frightened her as much as the other two had.
The look in his eyes when they were outside on the street — that was even worse than Clark-swearing-undying- love-to-her. That look was one that had never, ever been directed at Lois before, not even by Superman, or Lex — heck, not even by *Clark*!. It was the I-will-love- you-fervently-till-the-end- of-time- whatever-you-say-or-do look. The one that most husbands usually gave their wives when they thought nobody was looking. The look that Lois had often seen on Jonathan Kent's face as he gazed at Martha. The look that she had never seen on Sam Lane's face.
Forget talking, forget explaining, forget telling him she wanted to be more than friends — forget everything except getting out of there as soon and as fast as she could. That was what her mind had screamed at her, but the next second he was opening the door and ushering her inside and she hadn't had time to run away.
And now, Clark was standing in front of her, his arms folded loosely, a patented Clark look, <I'm-waiting- patiently-for-an- explanation-for- your-crazy-behaviour-but-I-will-not-push- should-you-prefer-not-to-tell- me> clearly expecting her to elucidate as to why she had suddenly morphed into the Runaway Bride and arrived at his apartment looking like a character in The Addams Family.
She cleared her throat nervously.
The words got stuck somewhere around her throat and, try as she might, she couldn't quite force them out.
"Lois." His voice was quiet, soft, wondering. "Why are you here?"
"I — I -" Lois stammered uncertainly. Why *was* she here? For the life of her, she couldn't remember.
"I didn't know where else to go," she finished at last. The pathetic little answer sounded lame to her ears, but from the look on Clark's face, she had evidently said the right thing.
"Oh, Lois." His voice was now tender, infinite gentleness, and he moved towards her and put his arms around her, pulling her to his chest.
Lois's arms came tentatively, timidly, around his waist, her fingers lacing where they met each other. She laid her head on his shoulder, and for the first time today, she felt relaxed.
Regrettably, with that relaxation came a tornado of regret. This man, this wonderful person, whom she had injured most grievously mere weeks ago, was now comforting her, holding her, mere minutes from when he had come home looking strangely defeated to find her on his doorstep. She had prepared herself for wariness, for uneasiness, for rejection, even for anger, but out of all the reactions she could have prepared for, he threw her for the proverbial loop by offering the two things she hadn't let herself hope for.
Love and comfort.
Love, which had been so apparent in his gaze mere minutes before, and comfort, which she was deriving from his hug.
If she was ever unclear about what a gem she had in Clark Kent, all her doubts were wiped away in the space of a few seconds.
She thought about how much she had hurt him, and quickly buried her face in his neck, unable to stop the tears from cascading down her cheeks. She had been so cruel, treated him so deplorably — and now she was racked in a curious mix of self- loathing and appreciation for the man that was currently holding her. She tried desperately to stop her tears before he noticed, but it was too late, and now his hand was under her chin, forcing her to look at him, searching her eyes.
"Lois — what's wrong?"
"Lois — what's wrong?" The single, hardest question he had ever asked in his life. He couldn't bear it if she was crying because of the fact that she had run away from Luthor, or worse, if she was crying because Superman had denied her.
When he had let her into his apartment, she had looked, to put it bluntly, ill-at-ease and nervous. She had looked fragile, something Lois had never looked in her life before, and for a moment, he had let himself hope…
…but no, that idea was completely illogical. How could he dream that her feelings would have done such a complete about- face in a matter of weeks? He had to get over her, he told himself firmly; she was out of his reach, would always be out of his reach. She was in love with his Super side — always had been, always would be.
His thoughts abruptly jerked back to Lois as she began to speak in hiccupy gulps.
"I — *hic* — hurt you so — *hic* — much and I -*hic*- didn't… I didn't…"
"Didn't what?" he asked, a bit sharply. Why did she have to torture him?
"Didn't — *hic* — *need* to!" she cried, the confession bringing on a fresh onslaught of tears. Wordlessly, he pulled her back into his embrace, trying to make sense of that cryptic remark.
Why did she always start to hiccup when she cried? She was sure that she had sounded like a pre-schooler and she would be surprised if Clark had understood a word she had said. But he must have, because seconds later she was once again in his arms, his hand cupping the back of her head against his neck. She sniffled a bit, then started to mumble.
"Clark, I'm so sorry — I — I — you must hate me!" she whispered brokenly. That thought, now that it had occurred to her, terrified her. What if he *did*? She didn't think she would be able to bear it if he scorned her now — it would just be too much to handle.
But he was speaking now, urgently, and Lois strained to hear.
"…could never hate you, Lois — never, never that! God knows, I've tried but…that's beside the point…stop doing this to yourself, Lois! Of all the things in this world, never doubt my feelings for you…never doubt that I love you…"
Clark closed his eyes briefly, clenching his jaw. He was such a Bonehead. Lois was, quite obviously, emotionally exhausted. Why did he have to go and declare his love for her all over again? She was tired and overwrought — no doubt she'd take flight like a startled bird now that he had told her how he felt…
This was undoubtedly the last time he would ever get the chance to hold her this way again… Her head came up off his shoulder and he prepared himself for another, 'I-love-you-like-a- brother' speech. Another rejection. Another reassurance that she would never feel the same for him as he did for her.
Forgetting all of his resolutions, he stepped back from her, his arms falling limply to his sides, staring at her in shock. Of all the answers she could have given him…
"Why do you love me?" she was nothing if not persistent. "I have hurt you so deeply — how could you still love me, after all that?"
He quickly found his voice as he became aware of how insecure she really was.
"How?" His voice was incredulous. "Because… because… oh, god Lois, I couldn't even begin to tell you!"
She was staring at him, obviously not satisfied, and he hastened to explain. Forget about his promise not to weigh her down again, forget about being hurt after she said she didn't love him the same way — Lois needed him right now and he would help her, in whatever way he could.
"I love you in so many different ways, Lois. I love the way you dive into life, headfirst. I love the way you grin when you're breaking a story. I love the way you refuse to be walled in, changed by all of life's petty expectations. I love the way you care, genuinely care about people, what happens to them. I love the way you insist that your voice be heard in the chorus of humanity. I love the way you never, ever, back down when you think you're right. I love the way you fight for what you believe in. I love the way you babble uncontrollably when you're nervous." He was on a roll now.
"I love your tenacity, your courage, your fire, your passion, your determination, your loyalty. I even love your stubbornness. I love the way you demand that the world be a better place. I love your chocolate fixation, your Lethal Weapon craze. I love the way your hair — " His hand reached out of its own accord and swept the silky strands away from her cheek, replacing it with his fingers. " — falls over your face, I love the way your eyes light up when you're teasing me, I love…" Her hand had come up to cover his. "I love *you*, Lois," he finished simply. He watched her, dreading her reply.
She stood with her eyes closed and her hand on his, her tears threatening to overflow at any second now. How could she ever have doubted this man? Even after the way he'd been treated, he had once again worn his heart on his sleeve and bared his soul to her. That, in fact, was braver than any feat Superman could do.
Superman. How strange it was to her that in the space of a few hours, her feelings had changed so much about him. She once would have sworn that she would do anything, *anything* to spend her life with him.
Today, for the first time, that feeling had been called into question.
After all, who *was* Superman? She still didn't know him, didn't know what his favourite food was, his favourite colour… for gosh sake, she didn't even know his name! Superman… she had called him that, because she didn't know.
And after all, what kind of a life would she have with him, anyway? Always ducking out to rescue somebody, always in a rush… she would always feel like she was sharing him with the rest of the world.
Whereas Clark… Clark she could be happy with. Clark would hold her when she was scared, laugh with her when she was happy, cry with her when she was sad. He couldn't offer her a castle in the clouds — but he *was* offering her something much more than that.
He was offering his love. As simple, and yet as complicated, as that.
And Lois loved him too. She truly did.
And he was still standing in front of her, his hand on her cheek. He had gone very still.
She looked up at him.
"Clark," she whispered hoarsely, "do you know why I ran away from my wedding?"
His expression was of wary reserve, and Lois felt her heart breaking for him.
"N-no," he admitted cautiously.
"It was because of you," she confessed.
His eyes bugged slightly at her admission. "Me?"
"Yes, Clark, you. I was standing in front of that big ugly mirror, thinking about what had happened to get me there, and suddenly I realised… that the place I wanted to be, more than anything, was right here." She stepped closer to him and laced her hands around her neck.
"What are you saying?" His voice was very quiet.
"I'm saying… that I want to be more than 'just friends' with you, Clark. I'm saying… that I think it's time to stop hiding from you, from my feelings for you." Her voice had dropped so that he had to strain to hear her. "I'm saying… that I'm in love with you, Clark," she finished shyly, looking up at him from underneath her lashes.
"I'm in love with you, Clark." The words that he had longed Lois to say for a year and a half. The words that he had despaired of ever hearing from her. She had just uttered them.
Oh, how he wanted to believe her! He wanted it with all his heart and soul, every fibre in his body was screaming at him to believe her.
But how could he, when just a few weeks ago, she had told Superman that she loved him? How could he, when mere *hours* ago, she had been about to marry another man?
She was stretching up to him now, her face raised to his. She obviously expected him to kiss her, but first… he had to know…
"Lois…" His voice was urgent. "What about Superman?"
Her shoulders slumped slightly and Clark felt a distinct pang in his heart.
"Superman…" she sighed wistfully, "Superman doesn't love me, Clark. And to tell you the truth, I'm beginning to wonder what exactly it was I felt for him." Her lips twisted a little as she smiled ironically. "You know, I think a big part of it was because he was safe."
"Safe?" Of all the answers Clark had been expecting, that wasn't one of them.
She was slightly nervous now, thought Clark, not quite so sure of herself.
"You know, like the way some women have crushes on movie stars — somebody whom they'll never meet, never speak to. It was like that. Superman was safe — he was good, and powerful, and kind, and compassionate — he wouldn't hurt me like the other men in my past. He couldn't hurt me. If he did, it would go against his every moral instinct, everything he stood for. And even if he would have hurt me, he was never close enough to me to do it. He was safe… *I* was safe in loving him. He was a hero, somebody who would come flying in and safe the day, and he was also somebody who made me feel smart — valued. Oh, I know you did too," she added as he opened his mouth to protest, "but you, Clark, you were very dangerous. From the first moment I saw you in Perry's office, I knew you were dangerous. You're *still* dangerous."
"Then why are you telling me this, if I'm dangerous?" Clark protested, unable to take it any longer.
"Because… because I have a feeling that if I *don't* tell you, it'll hurt me even more. Because I want to have faith in this… in us. I want to trust you, Clark," she finished, her eyes staring up at him pleadingly, willing him not to let her down.
And he wouldn't. He would spend the rest of his life trying to prove that he wouldn't let her down, if she'd let him.
She stretched up towards him again, but once more he stopped her.
"Lois… what about Lex?"
"Lex who?" she asked innocently, and touched her lips to his.
The first gentle touch of Clark's lips on hers was heavily intoxicating, and made every nerve in her body throb. How could this man — the same man she had dubbed a hack from Smallville — make her feel this way?
The voices started up again, but for the first time that day, she didn't need them — didn't need them to identify this emotion that rose up fiercely inside of her as his lips plundered hers relentlessly. She wrapped her arms around his neck and kissed him back, delighting in the taste of his lips, his mouth, his tongue.
It was their first kiss, but somehow Lois knew that it would be the first of many.
She knew that they still had a lot of things to work through… she needed to talk to Lex, and thank her mother and… mmm… talk to Jimmy, and Perry, and Jack… she had to talk to… oh… Superman, tell him that she wouldn't be throwing herself at him any more… and… maybe… she needed to think of a way to rebuild the Planet… but right at that second, she didn't let herself dwell on any of that… maybe later…
(until Season 2…)