By Pam Jernigan <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Submitted: November, 2004
Summary: Lois and Clark celebrate a Christmas to remember. Set in the author's "Tryst" universe.
A vignette set in the "Tryst" universe. I hope this is readable even if you haven't read Tryst, but it'll make more sense if you have.
"Lois! Clark!" Perry yelled across the newsroom. "I want that article on my desk now."
Lois, a long time veteran, didn't even look up, just waved from her desk.
Clark, on the other hand, had only been there a few months and felt that the editor needed a little bit more of an answer than that. "We're almost done, Perry."
"Good." The editor nodded then turned, scanning the room for his next victim. "Ginny!"
Clark turned his attention back to his beautiful partner, who was frowning at her screen and typing furiously. He just watched her for a moment, smiling. He loved seeing her like this. In fact, he thought with an inward grin, he loved *seeing* her do anything, as opposed to only hearing about it.
She looked up and scowled at him. "Why aren't you typing, Clark?"
"Because I'm done, of course," he replied cheerfully. "It was only a sidebar anyway."
She rolled her eyes and returned her gaze to her monitor. Somewhat absently, she complained, "I swear, Clark, you type faster than any human being I've ever met."
Clark grinned. "You know, there may be a reason for that, Lois."
She shushed him impatiently, so focused on her work that she probably hadn't even heard him. In a very short time, she leaned back, her expression triumphant. "There. Look this over, Clark, and see if I've forgotten anything."
He moved over to her desk, standing behind her, one hand on her shoulder, as he skimmed the screen. She'd used the wrong verb tense in the third paragraph, he noted absently.
"And if you see any misspellings or grammar errors, Clark, I do *not* want to hear about it."
He grinned, glancing down at her. "I wouldn't dream of mentioning them," he assured her.
"Them?" she demanded indignantly. "What do you mean, them?"
Clark felt it wiser not to reply, so he finished reading the article. "Looks good from here, Lois. You can go ahead and send it to Perry."
"Hah," she replied. "You just want me to look bad. Okay, show me what you found."
Briefly, Clark pointed out the story's few weaknesses. Grumbling, she fixed them, and then hit 'save' and quickly emailed the file to Perry. "Happy now, Clark?"
He leaned back against her desk as she pushed her chair away from it. "If it means you're done for the day, then yes, I'm very happy."
She stretched, leaning backwards in a way that drew his attention somewhere lower than her face. He quickly looked back up, to find her smiling smugly at him. "I'm not only done for the day, I'm done for the week," she reminded him.
"Even though asking for Christmas vacation very nearly killed you."
"Oh, it takes more than that to nearly kill me," she retorted, grinning. "As you well know." She gathered her things and stood, walking toward the elevators.
He took a second to gather his own things, then caught up with her on the landing. As he helped her put on her coat, he murmured, "Yes, and even when you're nearly killed, you're still pretty lively!"
She smiled at that comment. "Luckily for you!" The elevator door dinged and opened, and they moved into the car.
"For you, too, you know," Clark thought out loud. "If you hadn't done that ghost impression, I'd never have known to fly to Africa to look for you."
"I know." She turned to face him, then lifted herself up on her toes to briefly kiss him. "Thank you."
"Oh, you're so welcome." He put his arms around her and leaned down for a more intense kiss. All too soon, the elevator slowed to a stop and opened its doors in a none-too-subtle hint. Smiling ruefully, Lois walked out into the lobby — but not before grabbing on to one of Clark's hands.
"So… dinner at Aunt Opal's?"
"Yep," he confirmed. "My parents are there, too — they flew in this morning." He held the main door for Lois and then followed her out onto the street. "They took a commercial flight. Mom said they wanted *reliable* transportation."
"If I were you," Lois said with a sparkle, "I'd be insulted."
"Oh, I was." He grinned. "Told her I might not ever fly her anywhere again."
"And how did she take that?"
"She laughed, and said it was a good thing she'd bought round- trip tickets."
Lois laughed, too. Clark tried to look offended, but couldn't help smiling. "So, what about your family?"
She lost some of her cheer. "They're all getting together on the West Coast this year. I might even go visit them, if I had access to some reliable transportation…" She looked up at him, her eyes brimming with mischief. "But since I don't, I guess I'll just stay here and bug your family."
He laughed and put an arm around her shoulders. "You can bug us all you like, Lois," he promised. He was tempted to add that she could go on doing so for the rest of her life, but he wasn't quite that sure of his ground, and held his tongue.
It had only been a few months ago that Clark had started work at the Planet. The last thing he would have expected would be to meet up with a ghost — but, following Lois's near-fatal accident in the Congo, that was what had happened. He'd fallen in love with her almost before he knew what was happening. She'd seemed to return the sentiment, too… but then she'd abruptly been brought back to the land of the living, which had made things somewhat awkward. They'd been taking things slowly ever since.
It wasn't long before they reached Opal Clark Jenkins' townhouse. Clark had acquired his own apartment, but he knew he and Lois were welcome here at any time. They mounted the few stairs, then Clark opened the door for them. "Aunt Opal, we're here!"
There were a few moments of pleasant chaos, as Opal, Martha, and Jonathan greeted the newcomers. To Clark's secret satisfaction, Lois seemed to be enjoying herself, with no lingering traces of shyness.
As Lois was shedding her coat, he put a hand on her arm to stop her. "Mom, Aunt Opal… is dinner ready yet?" Lois looked askance at him, but let her coat stall on her arms.
"No, honey," Martha replied. "We've still got a half-hour before things are ready."
"Which means," Jonathan interjected, "that it'll be at least another hour before we eat."
Martha swatted him with a dishtowel. Jonathan pretended to flinch and Clark grinned at his father. "Well, that's good, actually, Dad." He turned to Lois. "It's almost sunset — want to watch it from the roof?"
She smiled and pulled her coat back on. "Sounds terrific, Clark."
"Clark, make sure she doesn't freeze out there," Opal advised.
"Don't worry, Opal," Lois said. "He always takes great care of me," she added, laughing. "Whether I want him to or not!"
Clark smiled ruefully as Lois led the way to the stairs. His protective nature had conflicted with her fierce independence, sparking more than one argument. They were both learning to compromise, though. More him than her, he often felt, but she had made a few concessions. According to Ginny, her brush with death had made Lois more cautious than she'd been before. Thinking of some of the hair-raising situations she'd been embroiled in since they met made that hard to believe — but Perry had confirmed it. So, they had their clashes and even a few flat-out fights… but always worked it out, one way or another. And the more Clark saw of her, the more convinced he was that she was the one perfect woman for him.
They emerged from the stairwell onto the roof. It was a tiny patio, barely big enough for the two lounge-chairs and small table that Opal had set out. There was a sturdy waist-high fence all around, as well, lending the illusion of privacy.
Lois walked over to the edge of the porch, and leaned her elbows on the wall, watching the winter sun descend. Clark walked up behind her and gathered her in for a hug. For a time, no words needed to be said.
"You know," Clark mentioned, "Aunt Opal told me, the other day, that she intended to leave this place to me, in her will."
Lois turned to look at him, her eyes dancing. "So if I want roof access, I'd better be nice to you?"
He looked down at her, helping her turn to face him, still in the circle of his arms. Her expression grew more serious.
"It made me think," Clark explained. "About the future. And I realized — the only important thing about my future is that it has to have you in it."
Her eyes widened in the twilight, studying his face. After a moment, she managed a smile. "I feel the same way."
Clark gathered his courage against the flock of butterflies that had just taken up residence in his stomach. "Well, in that case…" He retrieved a small box from his coat pocket, and held it open for Lois's inspection. "Will you marry me?"
She stared at the simple ring, then looked back up at him. Her eyes were filling with tears, but she was smiling broadly. "Of course I will, Clark."
With trembling hands, he pulled the ring out of the box, and tenderly slid it onto her finger. She gave it a brief look, then looked back up at him.
"I love you, Clark. I never thought I'd say that and mean it; I mean, I never thought I could feel this way, but being with you feels so incredibly right that…" She seemed to run out of words, then appeared to abandon the attempt, in favor of kissing him.
He returned the kiss, feeling a swell of love and solemnity, mixed. After a bit, he pulled back, and leaned his forehead in to touch hers. "I love you, Lois."
She choked out a laugh. "I know. I've always known."
"I hope this wasn't too sudden," he said apologetically. "But I just couldn't wait anymore. And having you wear my ring is the best Christmas present I could ever receive."
"Oh, Clark… And no, it's not too sudden — if you hadn't asked me soon, I would have proposed to you!" She smiled at him, looking incredibly happy. "This is the Christmas present I was really hoping for."
"Merry Christmas, sweetheart," he replied tenderly.
"Merry Christmas, Clark."
They grinned at each other like idiots for a moment, then moved forward together to kiss. Just as they touched lips, Clark heard a yell from his dad below. After finishing the kiss, he looked at Lois. "Dad says dinner's ready."
"Well, let's go down then! I've got something to show off."
"And I've got to get you in out of this cold weather." He opened the door to the stairway. They were greeted by a burst of warm air and the sound of distant laughter. "Come on, honey. Let's go have dinner with *our* family."