By Alicia U. <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Submitted October 2004
Summary: Why would Lois wake up in Clark's bed without any memory of the previous day? Chances are, Miranda's pheromone spray is to blame.
This story was originally written as an nfic, so if you are of age and are so inclined, I recommend you read that version. However, I don't think the story has lost much in conversion.
"Oh, oh, Lois," Clark moaned through clenched teeth. Her fingers traced a winding path down his chest, and he desperately tried to keep his eyes open. She had come to him, seduced him, and practically thrown herself at him.
He wasn't sure why she'd changed her opinion of him so quickly, but he hadn't questioned her motives. Yes she had thrown herself at him, but it wasn't like she had done the dance of the seven veils for him!
It had all happened in a flash, but there was no question that he had been more than willing. This was his wildest erotic fantasy. She was in his bed, and he finally had the freedom to make love to her and her to him. "Don't stop," he whispered. Her touch was almost too good to be true, and more than he had expected.
If this was a dream, he wanted to sleep forever. His heart melted when she grinned at him with passion like he had never seen in her eyes. Lois Lane loved him, Clark, not Superman, maybe as much as he loved her. Tonight, he had become a new man with his soul enlightened by Lois Lane's love. She was amazing. Beautiful. Wonderful. Sensual. Perfect. More than he had dared to imagine.
He brushed his right hand against her side, stroking up and down, too timid to venture too high or too low. She shivered slightly against his touch. He wasn't sure if he should pull away, but knew he couldn't if he tried. Her skin was so soft, so warm, so inviting. He needed to touch her so badly; he tentatively extended his other hand and she grasped it. She moaned softly, sweetly. "More, Clark," she softly pleaded.
After letting go of his hand, her fingers worked their way down his chest and stomach, sending sparks of ecstasy through his body. He couldn't stop a deep moan from escaping his lips. His heart raced furiously, nervously awaiting her next touch. Everything about her gave him an intense high. The man who felt no pain when slammed by bullets or cars now felt every little sensation when small fingers lightly brushed against his skin.
So many powerful emotions coursed through his body: unparalleled pleasure, absolute bliss, utter amazement. He'd never imagined he'd ever have the chance to share this experience with anyone. Especially not with her.
He gazed at her lithe form leaning over him, her mouth inching ever closer. Her warm breath against his cheek made him shudder in anticipation, driving him crazy, making him want her all the more. Everywhere she touched was on fire. He'd never known he could feel so much and so little all at once. He didn't want to miss one second. The pleasure, oh the pleasure, was almost unbearable
Everything about her overwhelmed him and sent his mind reeling. Yet he wanted to etch the memory of every moment into his mind forever.
Her ivory skin. Her full, red lips. Her large, brown eyes. Her dark, silky hair.
She was incredible. He was so lucky to be with the star of his wildest dreams. Their bodies came together in a surreal ballet. He had wanted her for so long, and now he was finally with her in ways he had always imagined.
"Lois," he gasped. "Oh god, Lois." He let the pleasure completely overwhelm him. She was his reality. Their bodies melded together as one, and the satisfaction reached levels surpassing any he had imagined. It was so real, so intense, so mind-boggling.
"I love you," she whispered. From this moment, their lives would be intertwined as one.
He kissed her softly before he finally pulled out of her. His head sank down to the pillow, and he wrapped his arms around her. "I love you, too." He had never imagined hearing those beautiful words leave her lips and that he would get the chance to say them in return.
Morning, sweet morning, would bring another day to bask in their finally requited love. Since they had shared something so amazing, their lives would never be the same again.
Tonight was the beginning of the rest of their lives.
"Morning? Already?" Lois groaned, her voice heavy with sleep. The bright light streamed in through the small break in the curtains drawing her out of her blissful slumber.
She cringed, trying to fight the assault on her senses. "Where am I?" she whispered, unable to find her voice. She sighed deeply and tried to roll over to block her eyes. "Why does it hurt so much?" Rolling over wasn't an option. She took a deep breath and grimaced at the sharp rays of light that felt like tiny spears assaulting her poor eyes. "Ooh!" she moaned. She immediately closed her eyes again, trying to ease the pain. "Oh god."
She took a deep breath. Why did it hurt so much? Why did everything feel so strange? "This has to be some kind of dream," she muttered. Everything was rough where she was used to smooth, hard when she wanted soft.
She shook her head slightly and winced at the pain. "What happened to me?" All her muscles ached, making it virtually impossible to sit up in one fluid movement.
Throbbing, pounding, pulsating pain.
"I don't have to sit up," she said to herself. She allowed her head to fall back onto the pillow so she could concentrate without the drums pounding in her ears. "God, what happened to me?" Her whole body hurt so badly that all she wanted to do was fall back to sleep and let all her pain dissolve. Plus she was talking to herself. She had to be going crazy.
What was her problem? She had no idea where she was, but all she wanted to do was go back to sleep? That was so counterproductive.
Slowly, she tried to force her eyelids to open. "Stupid light. Stupid morning." Who had turned the sun on without her permission? "Stupid nature," she added for good measure.
Body aches, headache, sensitivity to light. A hangover. What else could it be? "How much did I have to drink last night?" She considered it for a moment. "I have to stop talking to myself."
Violating her order, she whispered, "Did I drink last night?" She closed her eyes and tried to conjure images of the night before. "I don't remember. Anything. What happened last night?" She sat up sharply in bed, ignoring her body's protests.
"Oh god, what happened?" Nothing came to her no matter how hard she tried to force her memories to take shape. It was like she had missed an entire day.
She shook her head quickly; she had to remember something. A day couldn't have vanished from her memory.
Work. She had been at work and had gone to a staff meeting.
There had to be more than an early morning staff meeting. What about mid-morning, afternoon, evening, night?
"What happened?" she moaned. She opened her eyes again and allowed herself to survey the room. Why was it so familiar?
Blue pillowcases. A white comforter with blue stripes. Large, muddy athletic shoes thrown in the corner by the closet. A suit jacket and tie scattered on the ground next to the bed.
She knew this room. She knew the man who it belonged to. The bright-colored tie alone was enough to give him away.
Clark's tie. Clark's suit. Clark's shoes. Clark's bed.
Clark's leg against hers.
She was sleeping next to Clark Kent. Her partner. Clark Kent.
"How drunk was I?" she whispered. "We couldn't have done anything. It all has to be an innocent mistake."
She took a deep breath. How could it have been innocent? The evidence was far too incriminating. She lifted the blanket, and felt like she wanted to cry. Naked. Of course.
Sex. Hung over. Naked. Clark. Sex.
"Oh god. Clark!" she whispered forcefully, almost hoping to wake him. They needed to talk. She needed answers.
Still, it was almost too embarrassing. Maybe she didn't want to wake him. If they'd slept together in a drunken love fest, she'd never be able to look at him in the same way. Not like a colleague. Not as a friend.
How had she let it happen? How could she be in bed with him? Hadn't she learned from what had happened with Claude? Hadn't she vowed not to let it happen again?
Hadn't she promised herself never to let this happen with Clark? He was her partner, maybe even her friend, but a lover? Impossible. It had to be a dreadful nightmare.
She wasn't attracted to him. Not in *that* way. Okay, if she really stretched, maybe she was slightly attracted to him in the 'he's a man; I'm a woman' sense, but nothing more. The thought of having sex with Clark of all people was crazy. Beyond that, it was breaking one of her cardinal rules. Unfortunately, rules were made to be broken. Especially her rules. She had been too strong for too long; she had become complacent.
But Clark was better than Claude. He wouldn't have taken advantage of her.
She could not be naked in Clark's bed. He wouldn't have let it happen even if they both had been unable to make their own decisions. Could this be a dream? In a few seconds, would she wake up in her own bed?
She grabbed a large piece of skin at the bottom of her arm and pinched it hard. "Ouch! Damn it!" She sighed deeply. "It's not a dream," she moaned.
She closed her eyes momentarily, giving her time to reconsider her situation. Maybe she was jumping to conclusions. It wasn't like she never did that.
Was it really Clark next to her? She opened her eyes, turned her head and sighed. Dark hair. Broad shoulders. Smooth skin. "Clark," she breathed. "Of course it's Clark."
But Clark was Mr. Boy Scout. He would never take advantage of her. Even if she had been drunk and had come on to him, he would never let her go through with it. But what if he had been drunk, too? Would either of them have had the willpower to stop?
She pulled the blanket up, needing to know for sure if he was naked, too.
"No. I can't do it." She dropped the blanket before it revealed more than his bare back.
She couldn't bring herself to look any farther, but she couldn't tear her eyes away from his already-exposed skin. "Wow," she breathed appreciatively. His shoulders were amazing. He was so muscular, far more so than she had ever realized. She had to fight the urge to brush her hand against his skin and feel the muscles that lay beneath.
Almost like it was happening in slow motion, she grabbed the blanket again, ready to expose her partner. She pulled the blanket completely off of him in one fluid motion. "Wow," she breathed again.
She wasn't sure what to feel. Indignation? Fear? Anger? Lust? Should she scream at him? Or maybe should she ravage him with kisses?
Again, her hand reached out to touch his skin, wanting to feel the texture of those hard muscles under her hand. She felt almost guilty for staring at him like this, but he was so much more than she had ever given him credit for. "Wow," she repeated, not pulling her eyes away from his nude form. She'd never imagined Clark was so well defined and … so … wow.
Wait. What was she doing? Ogling Clark? She wasn't supposed to be attracted to him.
Her world was inverted before her and all she could do was drool over her partner's good looks. Was she the most superficial person in the world? She had to consider the important questions. How had they ended up like this? What had they done, drunk an entire bottle of tequila in five minutes? What else could make her do something so stupid and forget about it the next morning?
Stupid. Stupid. Stupid. She wanted to scream as she squirmed away. How embarrassing. She pulled her hand away, not wanting to do anything to awaken him. Yeah right. If all of that talking and moving hadn't woken him, surely taking the blanket away had!
She couldn't face him. Not yet. If he'd been as drunk as she had been, maybe he wouldn't remember either. So if she slipped out of bed quickly, he would never know. Then she wouldn't even have to move to a city far, far away. The 'Planet' had a London bureau. What about a Beijing bureau? She could learn Chinese if that was what it took to forget this happened.
Before Lois could hop out of bed and run away, something halted her progress. A hand. Squeezing her leg. Too late. She couldn't run, couldn't hide.
A hand behind her head, pulling her close to him. His lips against hers. A feeling of belonging, of contentment.
Almost kissing back. Oh, she wanted, no needed, to kiss him senseless.
What the heck?
She abruptly pulled away, and was ready to give Clark Kent a piece of her mind. Presumptuous bastard. He had some nerve kissing her like that, making her want to kiss him back!
But why had she responded so eagerly?
"Good morning," he said sleepily with a large, sappy grin. "I still can't believe we're together like this." He reached up to stroke the side of her face.
Stunned, she gasped at the sound of his voice, and jumped away from his hand invading her personal space.
She stared at him, unable to pull her gaze away from his eyes. Those deep brown eyes. Soulful. Mysterious. Familiar. "Your not …" her voice trailed off, shocked, hurt, dismayed.
She had been terribly mistaken. Those large brown eyes weren't Clark's. She'd know them anywhere. "Oh my god," she whispered, almost inaudibly. "It's you, Superman." She had been in bed with her hero. She was going to throw up.
His eyes shot open. She had called him Superman. Was it his imagination, his paranoia? What a wake up call. Clark had expected drift awake blissfully kissing and caressing his love. But he had been so wrong. "Wha-what?" He was frozen, unable to do anything but stare at her dumbly.
"You heard me, Superman," she said icily.
"What?" he said again, this time more clearly. He shook his head, trying to understand what was happening. Superman? Had she called him Superman? She knew? How could she know?
He slowly reached a hand up to his face. No glasses. They must have fallen off in his sleep. No, he had taken them off last night when Lois had asked him to. He had wanted to let her figure out his secret.
"Lois," he whispered. "I'm so sorry. I knew … know … I should have told you. I can't let our relationship keep going without you knowing everything about me." He ran his hand through his hair, ashamed he had surrendered to the moment without telling last night. Was one night of passion more important than honesty? His dream night had happened under a cloud of deception. He wasn't good enough to call himself human, let alone Superman. He saw a tear in Lois's eye and he wanted to reach out to her. At the same time, a small part of him wanted to run away and never return.
"Superman," she whispered. Lois stared into his eyes, unable to look away. Her mind whirled and her words came out in an incoherent jumble. "Your eyes." They were Superman's eyes. "Your voice." Clark's voice. "How?" They were in Clark's bedroom, and she had immediately assumed she was sleeping with Clark, but those steely muscles had to belong to Superman. She reached out to touch his hair. His dark, thick, silky, sleep- mussed hair. Superman could get bed head? "Your hair. It moves. I thought it was stuck to your head." He flew at speeds faster than a speeding bullet without one hair falling out of place. "Bed head. How can you get bed head?" She shook her head wildly. Then she abruptly stopped, surrendering to the pain coursing through her skull, stopping her thought process. "But Clark. Clark can get bed head."
She blinked, trying to merge the images of two separate men into one. They eyes. The hair. The body. The voice. Everything began to fall into place. Clark and Superman. Superman and Clark. Each man was someone she knew so well, but didn't know at all. Or did she know them both all too well? "Oh my god," she breathed. "You're Clark. And Superman." And she needed to get out of there. She was humiliated, frightened, betrayed, yet intrigued. With him so close, she had no time to digest everything that had happened in the last few seconds.
"Lois …" Clark stared at her blankly, frozen in place. After staring at her speechless for what seemed like an eternity, he found his voice. "Yes," he said simply in a voice no louder than a whisper. "I am Clark. And Superman."
Her heart pounded and she was shaking. "Clark, you can fly. And Superman is from Kansas. And Clark, you save the world. And Superman is my partner." Two men. One man. "And you fooled me for so long. What an investigator 'Mad Dog Lane', tenacious reporter, the woman who could look everyday criminals in the eye and challenge them mercilessly, the woman who could solve any mystery thrown at her really is. I couldn't even figure out that the two men most important to me were really the same man. What an idiot. How blind was I? You can't be that brilliant. A simple blue spandex suit and a pair of glasses were all it took to fool Lois Lane. I should have seen right through it. But I didn't. I knew both of you, and I didn't know." She looked down at the sheet covering her body. "And you can probably see right through this. Not that you haven't seen it already…" her voice trailed off, ending her babbling diatribe.
Lois's words felt like daggers through Clark's head. Lois knew. Lois knew. Lois knew. He was a fool. Why hadn't he had the guts to tell her himself? "Lois, I've never …" He let his voice trail off. She was right.
"You can't tell me you've never."
"Okay, Lois, yes, I can see through the sheet. It would have to be lined with lead for me not to be able to see. Is that what you wanted me to say? I can see through anything you wear if I really want to." He took a deep breath. "But I don't do it. I can control myself, Lois. I'm not a voyeur! I will only look if you want me to look." Looking at her now, he sighed and said, "And I can see that is not going to happen for a long time."
She pulled the sheet around her more tightly. "How do I know you're not looking now?"
He sighed. "I don't know what to say." What was happening? How had everything changed so quickly? "Lois, you've been so close to my secret almost since the moment I met you, and lately I've been so lax around you. I wanted you to know, but I couldn't figure out how to tell you. And I'm sure I've ruined any credibility with you …" Especially after sleeping with her last night without telling her the truth. "I'm so sorry, Lois," was all he could bring himself to say.
She visibly jumped back. "Why?" she said simply, her voice straining not to break. "Why didn't you tell me?"
Clark took a deep breath. He had been expecting that question, but wasn't entirely sure how to answer. "I don't know." He shrugged. "No, I do know. Lois, I am so sorry. I guess I am nothing more than a liar." Shaking his head woefully, he looked down into his hands, unable to keep her gaze. "I guess I am afraid of telling anyone about my," he paused, almost unable to go on, "differences."
"Scared of me?" she asked, her voice almost shaking. "What could I possibly do to you?"
His humiliation grew. Why was he such an idiot? Hearing her voice made him realize how stupid he sounded. "I don't know." He sighed deeply. "I've never told anyone, so I really don't know. Turn me in to the authorities so they can dissect me like a frog?"
Did he know how absurd he sounded? "Dissect you like a frog? They couldn't even cut your skin." She couldn't believe they were having this argument.
"My dad always said," he let his voice trail off. "I've never told anyone so I'd never have to find out what would happen. Come on, Lois, how many people want to know that the guy they work with is an alien? That your neighbor has special powers? That their best friend is Superman?"
She almost wanted to reassure him, but she knew he was right. "I don't know. How did you know I wouldn't think it was cool? I mean, Superman as a partner?" If she had known that from the beginning, maybe she would have been a little nicer to him. Or not. Instead of going the argumentative route, she decided to ask, "You've never told anyone?" She wasn't surprised, but it kept their conversation going.
"No one. My parents are the only people who know. But, Lois, you are the only person in the world I would tell. You helped me create Superman. You gave me an outlet to use my differences to help."
"Why didn't you tell me then, Clark? Superman?"
He interrupted, "Clark, Lois. Clark is who I am, who I always have been. He's the only person I've ever been or ever will be. Superman is a character you helped me create to hide my true identity. He's a one-dimensional enigma with special powers."
The more he talked, the more it hurt. She sighed deeply. He was almost insulting her by saying Superman wasn't real. She knew Superman. She loved Superman. He was real. "But you didn't answer my question, Clark." She made a point of deliberately pronouncing his name. "Why would you keep it a secret from me? I thought I was Superman's friend. And Clark's friend." She angrily brushed a tear from her cheek.
He felt his cheeks reddening when faced with her accusation. Why did he want to fly out of there far, far away? It didn't even matter that he was completely naked. He needed to escape. "Lois," he said softly. "I was, am, terrified of you. You didn't see yourself when I first met you."
She shot him an angry look. "What do you mean?"
He shrugged knowing he would regret what he was going to say, but not knowing how to stop his words. "The Lois Lane I met was only out for her own glory. Can you tell me you wouldn't have run with the story of Superman's true identity? Would it have bothered you that it would have ruined one man's life if you had gotten a Pulitzer?"
"No. I mean yes. I mean, you're wrong. I would never do that," she said instantly. Her voice trailed off because she knew he was right. The elusive Pulitzer; she would have stopped at nothing to get one. The story of the century, Superman's true identity. How hard had she tried to find out the truth? It had been right in front of her the whole time. She looked down at her hands, cowering at the truth. "I was stupid," she whispered.
"You were *not* stupid, Lois," he declared. The distance that separated them seemed so long. He wanted to touch her, to hold her, to comfort her, but he needed to help himself first. All he could add was, "You're passionate. And I love that about you."
She half-smiled. "Thank you." Then her smile faded. "But why didn't you *ever* tell me?" She took a deep breath. "After we got to know each other, I mean. We both knew that I would never tell anyone. I thought we were friends!" Friends. Maybe she had been mistaken.
He sighed. She had picked up his biggest weakness. His caution might have ruined the best thing that had ever happened to him. The words wouldn't come. He hadn't rehearsed this important soul-bearing revelation scene yet! "I was going to tell you, Lois. I wanted to tell you so badly."
"Then why didn't you?" she challenged. Everything was happening so quickly; she wasn't sure if she was angry, upset, sad, scared, or numb. A tear escaped her eye and ran down her cheek. She didn't want it there, but she didn't want to make the move to brush it away.
"I don't know," he answered honestly. "I've known I had to tell you the truth about myself almost since the day I met you. I was just," he let his voice trail off for a moment, trying to find the right words, "waiting for the right time."
Lois shook her head. "Right," she muttered almost under her breath. "You only told me because I caught you."
Clark inhaled sharply. Maybe she was right. "I am so sorry, Lois. I guess I was scared." What a lousy excuse. What kind of man was he?
"Scared?" she repeated. "Scared? You were scared?" She wasn't sure what else to say. Some writer she was! She couldn't even come up with a good snappy retort, the one thing she was supposed to be good at.
Her idealized image of Superman had shattered before her. He wasn't pure, wasn't wholesome, wasn't perfect. He was Clark Kent, her flawed, scared, human partner.
He ran a nervous hand through his hair. "I'm such an idiot," he muttered. "I can't believe I let this happen." He took a deep breath. "Lois, you have to believe me. I was going to tell you. I didn't mean for this to happen. Not this way. I am so sorry. I should have told you before," he let his voice trail off.
"Before?" she asked sharply. Suddenly, everything about their situation came rushing back to her. She was naked. He was naked. They were in his bed. "What happened, Clark?" She knew what had happened. Now she needed confirmation.
"Last night," he answered sheepishly, almost afraid to put it into words. "I should have never let it happen without telling you about myself. I don't know why …"
"So we did!" she interrupted. It felt like her entire world had crashed down around her. She wiped a stream of tears from her cheek. Her whole body went numb. Before, the idea had just been hypothetical. Now it was so painfully real. She couldn't deny it any longer. "Oh my god."
He looked at her, confused. She seemed shocked, like she almost didn't remember what happened between them. "Lois?"
"We slept together?" she croaked. Instantly, her mouth had gone dry, and she almost couldn't say the words. "So it's true." Suddenly, she shivered and tightened the sheet around her. She was scared. She was numb. She was exposed. This was a nightmare.
"Lois?" His heart fell. "Don't you remember?" He wasn't sure what to do or what to say. It felt like his world was crashing around him.
"Remember?" she asked sharply. "How do you expect me to remember? Who knows how much I drank last night!" They must have gotten completely wasted. But Superman, no, Clark couldn't get drunk. If he couldn't get drunk and she could, one conclusion came to her mind. "Did you take advantage of me?" The words sounded so strange coming out of her mouth. "You're the one, two, men I've always thought would never hurt me."
"Lois," he said, almost in shock. "You weren't drunk." He took a deep breath. "We weren't drunk." After a moment of consideration, he added, "You don't remember last night?"
"Did you get me drunk?" she asked, her voice shaking.
"Did I get you drunk?" He stared at her, unable to think of anything to say to defend himself. In a matter of seconds, his whole world had changed so dramatically. "Lois, you weren't drunk. What are you talking about?"
"I don't remember." She subconsciously tightened the sheet around her. "I don't remember anything." How had this happened? "I had to have been plastered, Clark. What else could make me forget? Where did we go? What did we do? And you slept with me? Even knowing how drunk I was?"
"What?" He inched back from her accusation. "You weren't drunk. You couldn't have been." His heart fell. Could it get any worse?
"What are you trying to tell me?" Was he trying to make her forget that she had been drunk? Could this be some kind of elaborate scheme? She wouldn't have believed either Clark or Superman capable of anything flowing through her mind, but after finding out he had lied to her since the moment he had met her made almost anything seem possible. "How do I know you're not lying now?" She shuddered, unable to believe the thoughts circulating in her mind. She threw her hands up in exasperation. "I thought you, both of you, were so honest, so noble, so good, so trustworthy. I can't believe you …"
He knew it sounded stupid, but he said, "Lois, please, you have to believe me."
"How do I know you aren't some kind of criminal? How can I be sure you don't use Superman to woo innocent women to fall for you, like I did, and then you use some Kryptonian evil magic power …"
"Lois!" he exclaimed. "I don't have any magical powers!" He threw his hands up in the air in exasperation, not caring that he was no longer clutching the sheet covering him. How could she not remember the most magical night of his life? "And if I did, I certainly wouldn't use them to take advantage of anyone."
"Okay, maybe not magical powers, but that doesn't change the fact that I don't remember anything! I woke up in bed next to you and that's all I remember." She looked down at her body, and instantly felt her nakedness. All that covered her was a thin, white sheet. Did it even matter? Clark could see through anything, and maybe had since the moment they met. Suddenly, she felt so exposed, so dirty. Before she had time to consider that horrific thought, she decided to deal with the issue at hand. She stared at him icily as she said, "Why did you do it, Clark?"
"Do what?" Clark pulled the sheet to better cover himself, to shield his body from her angry stare. This was the last thing he had expected after their night together. How could she think their experience had been anything other than amazing or any other superlative?
She took a deep breath, and started at him angrily. "How could you take advantage of me? I trusted you."
"I what?" It felt like all the air had left Clark's lungs and he was unable to breathe.
"I trusted you, Clark." She wanted to run away. But something was making her stay. Everything she had held true about the world's goodness had been so cruelly shattered in a few mere seconds. She needed time to process everything that had happened. At this point, she might have been making matters so much worse. She needed a clear picture of what had happened to her. And that wasn't going to happen here sitting next to him in bed naked.
"Lois, are you okay? I don't know what you're talking about." He stood up, and reached out to grab her arms. "You came to me. You seduced me. I thought you wanted me."
"I what!" she exclaimed. "I couldn't have. I don't remember," she let her voice trail off, and tried to associate this revelation with what she knew about herself. "Clark, I wouldn't have come to you. But I don't remember," she admitted. Was it smart to tell him that she had no recollection of an entire day? Would he be able to shape her memories to what he wanted? Could Clark have done something to her to make her forget?
"You don't remember? What don't you remember?" His stomach dropped even further. It had been a fantasy.
"Anything, Clark. Not last night, not yesterday." She took a deep breath. "All I know is that I woke up completely naked, next to you in your bed." Did she want to ask him the question lingering in the back of her mind? She had to. "You didn't give me anything, Clark? Did you?" He couldn't have given her rufies, right? Maybe something Kryptonian she'd never even heard of? Would he tell her if he had?
"Did I give you something?" He took a deep breath. "Of course not." Not only did she know his secret, she was practically accusing him of raping her. He felt tears prickling at his eyes. "You don't remember anything?"
Her heart melted when she saw the tears in his eyes. There was something almost scary about Superman crying. But maybe it was a ploy. "I figured out your plan, Clark Kent." She looked him straight in the eyes with her gaze unwavering.
"Don't play innocent with me. I've figured it all out. You want to populate the earth with little Superbabies so you and your army can take over the world." Did that sound as absurd to him as it did to her? She couldn't take it back, though.
"What? Lois, please, can we look at this rationally?" He didn't even want to dignify her wild suggestion with an answer. How could she even think …?
"Rationally?" She stared at him, unable to understand what he had said. She was looking at the situation completely rationally, especially considering the situation.
"You don't remember anything from yesterday, Lois?"
"No. You should know how your drugs work better than I do." God, she was jumping into the deep end now. How had she gone from waking up naked with Clark to waking up naked with Superman to waking up with Clark and Superman? Now suddenly she was thinking about rape and drugs? What was wrong with her?
Clark sighed deeply. "I don't have any drugs!" He took a deep breath and repeated, "I didn't drug you."
There was no way she could turn back now. "Then …"
He interrupted, "But I think something must have happened." He ran a hand through his hair thinking. He should have known. Lois couldn't have meant her declaration of love. "Do you remember anything?"
"I remember …" her voice trailed off as she strained to remember any part of yesterday.
"You remember," Clark prodded.
"Morning. After the staff meeting …"
She remembered it vividly as the images and emotions rushed back to her.
"… the bug story," Clark finished.
Lois closed her eyes and let her mind drift to her last memory before her mind had gone completely blank.
"Perry, you've got to be kidding!" Lois shifted in her chair angrily. Sometimes talking to Perry White was like talking to a brick wall with an Elvis obsession. Her editor wouldn't know a good idea if it bit him in the butt! She took a deep breath trying to calm down to keep her professionalism.
"Lois, I know what I'm doing." He smiled at her, and said, "You can put some zing into that fruit fly story."
What was he talking about? Obviously, she was the only one with sense. This was completely unacceptable. How could Clark have gotten the big dockworkers' strike, and she had gotten a stupid story about fruit flies? "But, Perry," she let her voice trail off not wanting to sound like she was whining. "Are you sure Clark is the right reporter for the dockworkers' strike?" She wanted to ask if he knew how crazy he was.
How could he assign Clark, a newbie, a greenhorn to the biggest story in weeks? Insanity was the only possible answer. Anyone with a healthy mind would see how stupid that was! If he wasn't mentally ill, then maybe someone had brainwashed him.
Hey, it had been known to happen! It wasn't like Perry had never been brainwashed! And she was pretty sure who had brainwashed him; it was probably someone whose name began with a 'C' and ended with a 'lark'.
Come on! Like Clark could cover the dockworkers' strike as well as she could. Yeah right. Who was Perry trying to kid? Did he want to compromise the integrity of the paper?
"Lois, give me some credit. We both know I didn't get to be editor of the Daily Planet because I can yodel."
She wanted to roll her eyes and say something gripping, but she held her tongue. With these current assignments, obviously Perry White did not want to produce the best possible stories. He needed to give his best reporters the best assignments to create the best final product. Shouldn't that be obvious?
Her skills would be better used on the strike story rather than the stupid fruit fly story. She knew it. Perry knew it. Clark knew it.
"But, Perry, aren't all assignments negotiable?" She wasn't sure if saying that out loud was a good idea. From the look on Perry's face, probably not.
"You're jealous, Lois. You can't stand another reporter getting a better story."
She rolled her eyes. "Jealous?" The word sounded funny coming out of her mouth. "Of Clark Kent?" As if that could ever happen! Maybe Perry really had become editor-in-chief of the world's greatest newspaper because he could yodel. It obviously wasn't due to his wonderful instincts. Could he be any more misguided? "If I'm jealous of Clark, then fruit flies are interesting." She waved her hand spastically in anger, unsure how to validly reflect all of her feelings. "No, if I'm jealous of Clark, pigs can fly with the stupid fruit flies! If I'm jealous of Clark, then fruit files are really pigs with wings!"
Perry grinned at her smugly, probably coming up with some kind of Elvis story — probably about jealousy with a moral at the end.
She continued, unable to stop, "I'm trying to help him, to protect him. I'm looking out for his best interests."
He raised his eyebrows, and said in his deep southern drawl, "Oh you are?"
She knew he was riding her, and they both knew how stupid she sounded, but she couldn't stop herself. "Absolutely. If I'm not there to help him, he'll fall flat on his face." In fact, he'd end up like a Clark-shaped pancake! And no one wanted that to happen to poor Clark. "He needs his senior partner's help."
"You don't even want a partner."
"I know," she said sheepishly, unsure of an appropriate response.
"Lois, you don't have enough faith in Clark. You've taught him well."
He was trying to give her an ego boost, trying to get rid of her. She knew he wasn't going to change his mind, but something inside of her made her keep talking to him. "Of course I have faith in him." After all, he did have the best teacher. "But he's still so green. He's not ready for such a large responsibility." Perry was wrong in expecting so much, in putting too much unnecessary strain on such a new employee. It could all be alleviated so easily! Now the fruit fly story … that was right up Clark's alley. He would do a beautiful story about, well, something about fruit flies. He would write it in a way people would find interesting and captivating. He'd done it before. Like in some story he had written a few years ago that had won some sort of wilderness award when he worked somewhere weird in the middle of nowhere. It was about lizards, or Gila monsters, or geckos or something. "Now fruit flies," she continued, "would be perfect for him." They should switch stories. What a great idea! Maybe her best ever.
"No, Lois, the fruit flies are your story." Perry wouldn't budge. "Clark can handle the strike. Story assignments are not negotiable."
Lois rolled her eyes and sighed deeply. Perry had completely unrealistic expectations for the other reporters. Not everyone could live up to Lois Lane's high standards of excellence! Clark Kent was undoubtedly in over his head. He had never covered anything as big as the dockworkers' strike in his few months at the 'Planet'. At least he hadn't done any story of this caliber without her help. She was sure he'd never come upon a story like this working at the Smallville Smallpaper or the Borneo Gazette. Clark needed help. More specifically, he needed *her* help! Instead of working on this stupid bug piece, she should be helping him. The city's best reporter should be on the city's juiciest story!
She was at her best when she sunk her teeth into the juicy stories. Her true potential could never be reached if she was stuck with stupid stories about bugs! And Clark, well, he liked bugs! Perfect! But no-o-o. Perry couldn't see the obvious if it bit him in the face. Too bad stupid fruit flies couldn't bite him in the face right now.
He seemed to think it was a "rule" that reporters had to write whatever story he assigned. Yeah right. How often did she follow that rule? Why did she have to start now?
Perry started lecturing her, but she wasn't really paying attention. It all sounded like, "Blah, blah, blah, turn over a new leaf. Blah, blah, blah, give Kent a chance. Blah, blah, blah, Kent's perfectly capable of doing it himself. Blah, blah, blah, fruit flies."
Whatever. She wanted to answer, 'Blah, blah, blah, this story will *never* pan out!'
"Get to work, Lois," Perry said in a demonstrative tone that made her stand up and walk out the door.
"Yes, Chief," she said as she shut the door. She would get to work, but not on the bug story. If Perry wasn't going to switch the stories himself, she would have to bypass higher authority and go straight to the source. Clark would listen to reason even if Perry wouldn't! Clark was nothing if not dependable and easily convinced.
She looked out over the busy newsroom and trying to locate her target. Clark would see how right she was! Nothing to worry about.
He was over by the coffee and donuts, pouring sugar into his coffee mug with two donuts in his hand. Sugar and caffeine were a 'Planet' employee's two staple foods. Clark especially. He was a notorious sugar addict. Where else would he be?
He looked up from his mug, and Lois locked eyes with him. Her eyes never left his as she stormed across the room towards him. He was trapped like a deer caught in headlights. Look at how wide his eyes were. Good. It was going exactly the way she had planned.
When she was close enough to touch him, she put a hand on his arm and said, "There you are! I've been looking for you, partner." She flashed her most brilliant smile. He obviously had no idea she was about to throw him right in the middle of an ever- exciting story about — bum da dum dum — fruit flies!
Clark looked at Lois like she was crazy. He'd known something was up as he had watched Lois stride towards him. He had picked up some of her random muttering at Perry's door. She'd looked like a wildcat waiting to pounce on her prey. That maniacal look in her eyes was unmistakable, even though she was trying to hide it behind her smile.
He was in trouble. Clark gulped when he felt her hand on his arm. She was trying to butter him up. He had to resist the sparks of pleasure coursing through his body at the mere feel of her hand against his skin.
No! Resist. He had to resist.
He couldn't think about how beautiful she looked in that …
No! He had to listen to her words rather than focus on her actions. She was trying to fool him, to appeal to his primal side.
She certainly was one tricky woman. And he was a crazy, lovesick fool. What a wonderful pair!
Okay, now what did she say before he started wallowing? Oh right. Partner?
Lois Lane had never willingly admitted that she and Clark were partners. She wanted something. Unfortunately, he knew what it was.
That was the problem with having superpowers. His enhanced hearing had accidentally locked on Lois's conversation with Perry after the morning staff meeting. He hated eavesdropping, but he had heard his name, and couldn't stop listening even when he knew he didn't want to hear any more.
He should have forced himself to stop listening because he hadn't heard anything good.
Lois had tried to convince Perry to let her hone in on his story. It was his story! How dare she! It was like she thought he wasn't good enough! No, she was jealous. She had a story she hated, and he had an interesting story. Jealous.
Clark stared at her incredulously, eyebrows raised skeptically. "Partner?" he said in a challenging tone. He wasn't going to let her win so easily! This was going to be a fight to the death, and he was planning to win!
Go team Kent! It was bound to be a tough battle, but he was going to emerge victorious. Lois was the toughest opponent he'd ever faced.
"Well, yeah, partner." Trying to keep herself calm, she grabbed a cup and poured herself some coffee. Changing the subject to throw Clark off the scent, she exclaimed, "Eew! This stuff tastes like raw sewage!"
"Raw sewage?" Clark shook his head. Partner, raw sewage, yeah, those things were related. He needed to roll with it. This was obviously some kind of ingenious ploy to get him to think about something else. He took a sip of his coffee and muttered, "It tastes bad, but not like raw sewage."
"Have you ever tasted raw sewage?" She raised her eyebrows and stared at him; she'd actually had the raw sewage experience not so long ago. This coffee tasted pretty similar. When he shrugged, but failed to offer any other response, she added, "I could make better coffee than this."
"Really, Lois? Have you ever tasted your own coffee? Believe me, sewage tastes better." That was a low blow. He didn't usually act like this, but his instincts were taking over. She had insulted him! He wasn't going to tell her how wonderful she was, especially not after she had told their boss that he was inexperienced and too green to handle a story like the dockworkers' strike!
Lois rolled her eyes. "Whatever. Anyway, partner, why don't we get started on that strike story? You can get me up to speed on everything you have so far." She tugged on his arm to get him moving towards his desk.
Lois guided him towards his desk, and Clark stopped dead in his tracks. "Wait a second, Lois."
"Hmm?" She looked at him trying to pretend she was completely innocent. He would buy it. Of course he would. Clark was that gullible.
"Why don't WE get started on the strike story?" He looked at her with innocent eyes, trying to hide his slight unease.
Shoot! He didn't buy it! The ambush tactic had failed! "Well, we are partners, aren't we?"
Clark shook his head incredulously. So this was how it worked. They were partners when it benefited Lois in some way. He wasn't going to let her push him around. At least not this time! "Wait a second. Didn't Perry give you a story?"
Lois rolled her eyes again in frustration. Details. "Oh, that stupid fly story. The flies can fly away." She made an agitated flying motion with her hand.
Clark laughed at her frustrated, erratic motions. She was really upset, but he wasn't going to cave. "Flies?" he asked innocently, playing her game. If she was going to play hardball, she was messing with the wrong guy. He could play the game right along with her.
"Right, fruit flies." She brushed the subject away, saying, "I guess there's a big infestation in the suburbs or something and I'm supposed to cover the spraying and the possibly dangers of the pesticide, whatever it is."
Hmm, Clark's eyes had lit up a bit when she mentioned fruit fly infestation. Maybe he would bite on her scheme. She had given him the perfect bait. It had all of the perfect elements for him: bugs, human interest, and farmland. Ideal for a man from a town called Smallville. He would actually be interested in something like that!
Lois continued, "Oh, Clark, I think you'd really be interested in this story. It's a real … page turner." She stifled a yawn. "Perfect for you," she added.
Clark knew he had slipped. Lois had seen his weakness, an actual interest in her story. Whoops. He needed to back out of this … quickly. He had something Lois wanted. For the first time in the months he had known her, he controlled the situation.
Now he needed to correct his mistake. He couldn't let her see weakness. The solution was avoidance. It was time to change the subject. "I know you don't like your story, but you know as well as I do that we're supposed to write whatever stories we're assigned, whether we like it or not." That was great! He had effectively changed the subject and gotten the attention away from his interest in her story. He smiled at her. "I guess I lucked out this time."
Lucked out. Yeah right. He was positively smirking at her! Oh, now the smirk was gone. Maybe she was being paranoid.
Time for step two. "But, Clark, we're partners. That means we work together."
"In what way?"
"Well, I help you with your story."
Clark finished her train of thought, "And I write your story for you?"
"Exactly." She nodded enthusiastically. Yes! He got it!
"No," he answered simply and proceeded to take a bite of his chocolate cream donut and chew it slowly, deliberately.
What was that strange word coming from Clark's mouth? Were her ears playing tricks on her? She thought she heard it, but she didn't believe it. "No?"
He swallowed his donut and said, "You heard me. I'll be perfectly fine with the dockworkers' strike on my own. I think it's time for this greenhorn to spread his wings and fly like a fruit fly."
"Ha. Ha. Very funny." Clark was probably the least amusing person she'd ever known.
"I know you don't like your story, Lois, but sometimes we have to write stories we think are dumb when there is nothing else to write about and we need to fill the space."
"This is Metropolis. How could there be nothing else to write about?"
"If there is so much to write about, why are you trying to move in on my story?"
"What?" Oh no! Clark had turned the tables on her! How had he done that? He shouldn't be able to do that! It had always been against the rules!
"You're jealous!" Lois was jealous of him! It was an interestingly satisfying feeling.
"I am NOT jealous!" Lois sighed audibly. Why couldn't anyone see that? It was completely obvious! She added, "I'm trying to help you!"
"Help me or steal my story?" Clark calmly took a sip of his sludge-like coffee and a bite of the maple frosted donut and waited patiently for Lois's answer. He found the whole process almost amusing.
She should have known step two was way too easy. Even though it was painfully disgusting to think about, she had to try step three, her last resort.
Clark was slightly attracted to her. She knew it. He didn't know she knew.
She could exploit her feminine charms. If he wouldn't give in to rational Lois, he would have to surrender to sexy Lois. It was nature's way.
"Come on! Please? Pretty please?" She took a step closer and put a hand on his chest. "You know you do these sappy mood pieces so much better than I do. I can't even do them justice." She smiled, and laid on the sap. "Not like you can."
Clark's pulse quickened when he felt the soft pressure of her hand on his chest. Oh, the torture. Lois Lane was an evil genius!
He took a step back and said, "Mood pieces? A story about the weekly malathion spraying to stop fruit fly infestation is a mood piece?"
"See, you even know the pesticide's name." She took a step closer again and softly covered his hand with her own. "You'd be perfect."
"Lois! It isn't a mood piece."
Well, okay, then it's a boring, useless piece." She sighed in frustration. That didn't help her cause at all! She needed to keep her temper in check if she was supposed to entice Clark to take this story, not repel him away forever.
"Oh, so it's a bad mood piece?" He smirked at her, knowing he had made a bad joke, but wanting to hear her response.
It wasn't a useless piece; it just wasn't the kind of piece Lois often did. Perry must have had a reason for assigning it to Lois. Right now, Clark sure wasn't going to bail her out. So what if he thought the piece had some potential. After what Lois had told Perry …
What right did she have to waltz into their editor's office and demand to be put on a different story … Clark's story? How dare she say that he needed her help because he couldn't handle an in depth story on his own!
Of course he could handle this, and any other story Perry assigned him.
And he was going to prove it.
"Ha. Ha." She glared at him menacingly.
"Hey, I thought it was funny."
"You're lucky I didn't throw this coffee on you."
"Go right ahead," he said softly, anger getting the better of him. He regretted his words almost as soon as they left his mouth. He had just bought this nice, crisp white shirt. It definitely didn't need a coffee stain! Though, it would keep the drycleaners happy.
She was tempted to throw the coffee in his face, but decided to try a different tactic.
Instantly, she was hit by another stroke of genius. It wasn't her usual approach, but in this case, it might work! Flattery. "No, I'm not going to do it," she said sincerely. And maybe he bought her sincerity. "Clark, seriously, you have a talent I really envy." Yeah, butter him up! "You can make the mundane interesting." She paused momentarily, then looked up into his eyes and said, "Partner."
"Lois, did you hear me before? I am not switching stories with you." Maybe if he hadn't known her true motives, he might have fallen for her devious tactics.
What was his problem? He was worse than Perry! He didn't listen to reason! "But the dockworker strike is so much more interesting. I mean fruit flies? Come on!" Begging. Stooping to begging? What was she? Desperate. That's what she was.
She took a stop closer to him and brushed a hand over his arm. At this point, it was a battle of wills. She wouldn't stop until she got him to crack! It was her mission.
"How many times do I have to tell you 'no'?" He was immune to her charms. The feel of her beautiful hand touching his arm … no! He couldn't succumb to her devious tactics.
"Come on, Clark. Switch with me. You know this is my specialty."
"Dockworkers' strikes are your specialty?"
"You know what I mean. Hard investigations are my specialty."
He decided to give her a little credit. She was right. Lois Lane was the best reporter in the city when it came to hard investigations and big stories. She didn't deserve to be on a story about flies. Then again, the strike was his story! She had no right to try to get in on it so underhandedly! "I know, Lois, but this is my story."
Pouting, she added, "Please. Perry kind of suggested …"
"Perry couldn't have told you to switch with me."
"Okay, he didn't exactly tell me to switch with you."
Clark raised his eyebrows, and sighed. "He must have assigned us these stories for a reason."
"Well what does he know?" she muttered under her breath. It was pretty obvious that no one knew what they were doing any more. They whole paper had gone to hell in a hand basket, and no one seemed to notice but her. She was the only sane one in the asylum!
"More than you know, Lois," her editor's loud booming voice echoed through the newsroom.
How had he heard her? He didn't have Superhearing!
"Aren't you late for that interview with the Pest Control Division?"
Lois sighed audibly. She wasn't going to get out of this. Clark had really screwed her over this time. How could both Perry and Clark expect her to write such a mundane story?
Clark checked his watch and realized that he was running late, too. He couldn't help but gloat. "Have fun, Lois."
He had won!
For the first time in the entire time he had known Lois, he had won!
Lois stomped back to her desk and flopped down onto her chair in a huff. Maybe she could follow Clark to the arbitration hearings and show him how much he needed her help.
"Lois, get a move on! I need your story for tomorrow morning's edition!"
Or maybe not. Her master plan was foiled, yet again, by none other than Perry White.
Drat all the stupid fruit flies!
"I hope they all die," she muttered under her breath.
"What was that, Lois?" Clark said teasingly.
"Argh!" Lois exclaimed as she made her way out of the newsroom in a huff.
If she had to do this stupid article, she had better suck it up and do it well. She was going to make *sure* hers ended up on the front page while Clark's was next to the obituaries!
Now, how in the world could she find something interesting, groundbreaking about a stupid little bug?
Well, she was Lois Lane and she could do anything. The answer would come to her eventually.
She stormed into the elevator and the doors closed, leaving the newsroom in her wake.
"The glasses," she said, and reached out to feel them. "I can't believe a pair of wide-rimmed glasses can make such a difference in your appearance."
"And that's all I remember," Lois said. It was as if the elevator doors had closed on her every memory. There had to be more to the day, though. Time couldn't have magically skipped from one morning to the next.
"That's all you remember?" Clark took a deep breath before he continued, "You don't remember anything that happened after that? Lois, you didn't come here until after seven pm."
She squeezed her eyes shut again, hoping and praying that she would instantly recall anything that had happened after she had boarded the elevator. "I can't … I can't … The doors closed. And then it's blank."
"Lois, you don't remember anything after you got on the elevator?"
"I remember," she said softly, "waking up in a strange bed. Your bed. I remember remembered finding out you are Superman." She took a deep breath. "I can go forwards, but not backwards. Of course I remember things that happened a few minutes ago."
"Is there anything I can do?" Clark asked. He ignored her comment about his being Superman. They had already belabored that point so much.
She tilted her head back and shook her head. "I don't know. I need to remember on my own. I have to fill that time gap between the elevator doors closing and waling up in your bed."
"You don't remember going to interview the pest control division?" When she didn't say anything in response, Clark continued, "You really don't remember coming to my apartment last night?"
"Not at all," she said softly. She almost felt bad for thinking he could hurt her. But how did she truly know he was innocent?
"You don't remember coming to my apartment?" he asked again. "You don't remember the Chinese food?"
"Why do you keep asking me the same question over and over? It's like you think repetition is going to do something." She took a deep breath, trying to calm down.
He sighed deeply, and ran a nervous hand through his hair. "I'm hoping something will jog your memory. I can't believe you don't remember last night. It was the best night of my life."
"Well, why don't you tell me what happened?" she asked cautiously. It was against her better judgment, but the words came out anyway. She wanted to run. She wanted to hide. She wanted to go to the police and report a rapist. But something was making her stay.
"Okay," he said slowly, deliberately. Clark shook his head. One thing he knew was that it wasn't doing him any good to stare at her. The images of last night floated through his mind as he saw her wrapped in a thin blanket. Only a blanket. His blanket. God, he was an animal. He scrunched his eyes shut and took a deep breath before he said, "Why don't we get dressed first? I'll make some coffee …"
Lois interrupted, "Good idea." Even though he was Superman and could see through anything, she would certainly feel a lot less exposed and vulnerable with real clothing covering her. "Where are my clothes?" she asked softly as she scanned the bedroom, unable to locate anything of hers.
"In the living room, on the floor around the couch," he said softly.
She practically ran out to the living room, blanket wrapped around her, and gasped at the strewn pile of her clothes. "How they get like this?"
Clark, who had dressed at super speed, stood before her fully dressed in a pair of jeans and a t-shirt. He took a deep breath before he said, "I, uh, don't remember. It got kind of, well," he let his voice trail off, in search of the right word, "passionate."
Lois scrunched her nose distastefully. "Passionate?" She wasn't sure how to react. Instead of waiting for his response, she quickly gathered all of her clothes and stomped into the bathroom. She wasn't going to give him the pleasure of watching her get dressed! Clark Kent, Superman, whatever, whoever, was so full of it. Passionate? Whatever.
She fastened her bra and pulled on her underwear.
Did he really think repetitively urging her to remember last night would somehow make her pretend to remember something?
She put on her pants and then her shirt, shivering involuntarily as she thought of Clark. What had they done? Clark wouldn't have taken advantage of her. Superman wouldn't have taken advantage of her. But why was her mind stuck on the idea?
It had been a passionate night? So intense her clothes had been strewn all around the apartment? And all this had happened voluntarily?
She took a final glance in the mirror and stared at her reflection. Strange. She didn't look any different than she had yesterday morning, but in one short missing day, her life had changed so profoundly.
Lois opened the bathroom door and slowly made her way back out into the living room. When she left the bathroom, her eyes rested on the image of Clark, Superman, slumped dejectedly on the couch, head in his hands. This was an uncharacteristic, vulnerable position for him, especially as Superman.
She sighed deeply and purposefully stepped towards the couch. He was sitting there. The thought made her want to run to the door. But she had to give him a chance to tell his side of the story. Besides, he remembered what happened last night.
But she had to remember that he was a liar. She had to make sure she didn't believe another one of his lies. However, she owed him a chance. He had done so much for her in the few months she had known him.
She flinched when she realized he was watching her. At the sound of her footsteps, his head had probably jerked up to watch her. Undaunted, Lois stared into his bespectacled eyes. "Amazing," she whispered.
"The glasses," she said, and reached out to feel them. "I can't believe a pair of wide-rimmed glasses can make such a difference in your appearance."
He shrugged self-consciously. "I know."
"It's like a metamorphosis." No wonder he had fooled so many people. No wonder he had fooled her. She took a deep breath. "Before you were some kind of weird Clark/Superman hybrid. It scared me. Now you look like Clark." And Clark didn't scare her.
He shrugged. "That was Clark, too, Lois. I am Clark. I'm always Clark."
"You're Clark," she said softly. "You're Superman, but you're Clark." She ran a nervous hand through her hair. "Why would I think to question either one of you?" The only way she could ever see the two meld into one was by seeing him naked. And she was supposed to be the best reporter in the world.
"You weren't supposed to question me." He tried to crack a smile, but found it too hard. "My parents and I engineered the disguise so no one would find out that I am Superman." Before she had a chance to ask any more questions, he asked, "Do you want to sit down?"
"No, I don't want to sit down." She exhaled quickly before she added, "But I will anyway."
He scooted over on the couch to create a space for her to sit, and she reluctantly sat down next to him moving as far away from him as she could, sinking down into the far corner.
They sat in silence staring at each other for what could have been a few seconds or an eternity.
Finally, Lois sighed deeply, and said, "I can't stand this silence! All this quiet is driving me crazy! Look, tell me what happened."
"What?" Clark was taken aback. He was having trouble coping with the whole situation, and he felt like he needed a few moments to collect his thoughts. And that was so hard to do with her sitting so close to him.
"Go ahead; tell me your story. Tell me what happened."
Clark sighed deeply. "Why? You're not going to believe me anyway. Right now, I'm not even sure if I believe myself!"
He ran a hand through his hair and rubbed the bridge of his nose with the other, both nervous habits at once. If he had seen himself, he would have marveled at how ridiculously flustered he looked.
Before giving her time to reconsider and subsequently rescind her offer, he decided to suck it up and start from the beginning. It was a long story, but he had to try to tell her. He couldn't get her to remember any other way; he had no other choice. "I left the newsroom a few minutes after you did yesterday to try to get to the union press conference."
"Mmhm," she muttered. Or he left the newsroom to follow her to the MPCD so he could take her back to his lair and have his way with her. Either way, he probably had left the newsroom shortly after she had. At least that much was the truth.
Clark glanced at her before continuing, "Like I was saying, the union and management were at a complete stalemate, and they were about to enter federal arbitration." He paused for a moment. "Anyway, that isn't really important."
She nodded, urging him to continue.
"Anyway, I rushed out of the newsroom after you did, still pretty angry about how you had treated me …"
Clark walked through the revolving doors and out into the fresh air, reveling in the feel of the cool day's soft breeze against his skin. He took a deep breath and exhaled slowly trying to release some of the tension that had encompassed him. Glad to be free of the newsroom and especially of a certain Mad Dog Lane he felt a spring come back into his step.
Mad Dog Lane was right. Lois had really gotten under his skin back in the newsroom. She had been awful to him! Then again, he hadn't exactly been a saint either. He had let his emotions get the better of him, and he had almost lost control. For once he hadn't been able to control himself and he had stooped to her level.
He should have been able to control his emotions. It wasn't her fault he had heard her conversation with Perry. He shouldn't have been listening in the first place.
Of course she was out of place telling Perry that he needed help on his story. Yes, she was wrong to belittle him in front of the entire newsroom, but that didn't mean he had to stoop to her level. That was the way Lois behaved. Everyone … put up with it. She was the paper's best reporter. It wasn't even a contest.
But when she had treated him so poorly … Still, that didn't mean he had to treat her equally poorly in return. It was disgraceful!
Right now, his personal problems didn't matter. He needed to focus on the story, especially if he was going to prove Lois wrong! They both knew he could handle this story on his own. She probably even realized how jealous she was, even though she would never admit it.
He quickly glanced at his watch and realized that if he was going to make it to the press conference, he had to hurry! Lois would never let him live it down if he missed an important press conference!
Luckily the press conference was being held only a few blocks away, so he didn't even need to fly. He was able to walk at a leisurely pace, enjoying the feel of the cool breeze against his skin.
By the time he arrived at the press conference, it was very crowded. In fact, he fully expected to see Lois in the front row!
"You're telling me you went to the strike press conference and tried to seduce me there? That is low!" She knew everything she was saying was irrational, but she was starting to regret agreeing to hear Clark's side of the story.
Clark sighed deeply. "No, Lois. I went to the strike press conference because it was my story! I thought I'd see you there after the way you had treated me yesterday morning. I didn't expect you to let it go and thought for sure you would ignore Perry's assignment entirely and try to butt in on mine again!"
Lois shrugged. "Okay, maybe I believe you there; I actually had considered doing that! I'm sure it probably was more interesting than interviewing a pest control representative." She remembered something else. The thought of blowing off the PCD and butting in on the press conference. Yes, she had had considered it; she remembered those thoughts vividly.
Clark gasped. She remembered something. Could that mean her memory was returning? Clark wasn't sure if he dared to hope. "Do you remember anything about your interview?" he asked, a hint of guarded optimism in his voice. "You remember it being boring?"
Lois shrugged. "No. But if I had gone, I'm sure I would have found it mind-numbingly boring. I mean, come on, the MPCD?" She waved her hand flippantly.
Spirits slightly crushed, Clark argued, "It couldn't have been as boring as my press conference."
"Believe me. You have no idea." She rolled her eyes at him.
"No. Believe me. The union spent over an hour arguing about a 0.05% raise that was the one remaining sticking point. And then the management came out with a detailed budget detailing exactly why they couldn't afford the raise. Now they're going to a federal mediator to straighten it all out. The worst thing is I'm really not sure how to approach the story."
"So what are you trying to say?" She rolled her eyes knowing he wasn't necessarily telling the truth about anything. Aww, poor Clark playing the sympathy card. He wanted her help. What had she said yesterday?
"I was bored silly. After the long press conference, a six-car pile up on the expressway that Superman, uh, I, helped clean up, and then coming back to see that the negotiations were going nowhere, I went home to go through all of my story notes and …"
Clark threw his notes for the strike story onto the coffee table in frustration. He leaned back on the couch and rubbed his eyes in frustration. Why was it so hard to finish this stupid story? He had to be giving it more time and energy than it deserved.
He had been trying to make sense of his notes for the last hour or more, but there really wasn't a good story anywhere to be found! Although he wasn't really affiliated with either side, he did sympathize with the dockworkers, so he wasn't sure how he could possibly write a truly fair and unbiased story with so little information to work from. Nothing was conclusive except the little he'd heard at the press conference.
Maybe Lois had been right. He probably would have been happier writing the fruit fly piece. Aah, but he would never give her the satisfaction of knowing that she had, indeed, been right. Never. He couldn't do that to himself!
The strike negotiations had gone on well into the evening, and after the two sides broke for the night, Clark didn't see any point in going back to the newsroom. He had known that he would be able to work on his story from home a lot more readily than from the newsroom. His thoughts tended to flow a lot better and more freely when he was alone. No outside distractions other than the usual ones for Superman.
Distractions? AKA Lois.
Above anything else, he didn't want to have to face Lois again. Not tonight and definitely not until this story was finished and he would finally be able to prove her wrong.
She would undoubtedly take pleasure in the fact that he wouldn't be able to make deadline for this story. He wasn't sure if he would be able to take it without saying something back to her like he had this morning. But she had to learn that he wasn't a doormat that she could stomp over whenever she pleased.
Plus, he was frustrated that the story wasn't all that interesting. When he added the fact that Lois would be pressuring him to let her help him and belittling his skills, he wasn't sure what he would do.
Boy, had he made the wrong choice! Even the story about the fruit fly spraying was sounding better than the dockworkers' strike right now.
He stood up angrily. Why couldn't he make the words flow from his hands onto the computer? Stress. He had wanted to prove Lois wrong so badly that he was trying way too hard.
He needed to look at this story completely objectively. No, it wouldn't be a Kerth-winning story, but it was one of the only bits of hard news out there this week. He had to give it the attention it deserved. No stupid fight with Lois should interfere with the story.
Filled with a new resolve, he picked up a page of notes again, sure that this time he would end up with a story. A good, solid story.
He stared blankly at a page of notes, and realized this newfound resolve wasn't helping him concentrate at all. Declaring strong intensions was far different from actually physically following the declaration. He couldn't write the story if he couldn't even concentrate.
He put the notes back into the stack on the coffee table and stood up. He stretched, trying to loosen his stiff muscles. There had to be something to steer his mind in the right direction so it could totally focus on this story.
A few laps around the world? Nah, he wasn't in the mood tonight. Sure it would burn off some of the excess stress, but it wouldn't help him focus on the story.
A cup of tea? Exactly. Once he had his tea, he would be able to write. Tea really gave his muse a kick in the rear end. He would be able to write an exceptionally inspired story one he finished his tea!
Besides, he needed something else to do. The more he thought about the story, the harder it became to write. He needed to keep his mind occupied.
He went into the kitchen and placed a full tea-kettle on the stove. While he waited for the kettle to whistle, he fleetingly wondered why he had decided to use the stove instead of his heat vision.
Obviously he had chosen the stove because it took longer and it would mean more time away from the story. At least making tea gave him something to do other than sitting on the couch like a bump on a log staring blankly at notes for a story that wasn't cooperating, and certainly wasn't writing itself.
Just as the kettle whistled, there was a strong, insistent knock on the door.
He quickly took the kettle off the stove, and turned off the burner. Then he pulled his glasses down his nose and stared out the door.
Of course. Lois. Who else had he expected? It was only natural that if he hadn't gone to Lois, she would have to come to him. And she was holding a large, brown paper bag. He almost didn't want to find out what it held!
The one thing he knew for sure was that he was in for a very long night.
"You've got to be kidding."
Clark shrugged. "Do you really think I could make something like this up? I'm not that creative."
"Obviously," she said under her breath.
He sighed deeply. "Obviously." Why did he deserve this? He was a liar. So maybe he did deserve her doubt.
For the last few months, especially since they had gone to Smallville together, he had thought that they were growing closer. He would have even called them good friends. Now he knew how mistaken he had been. Lois obviously didn't know him at all. And she had no reason to believe he was anything more than a dirty liar.
"You're saying *I* came to see *you* last night when you were innocently working on your story and making tea?" She stared at him incredulously. "Well, yeah." He wasn't sure what else to say. It was the truth. He couldn't change what had really happened. "I *was* working on my story and I *was* making tea!"
Lois looked at him pointedly, anger raging through her body. She wasn't sure if she was mad at him or mad at herself. Regardless, she said, "I don't believe you, Clark Kent. Why would I have come to your door voluntarily? To apologize?" Right. Like she would do that. Uh huh. Obviously.
Clark sighed deeply. "I don't know *why* you came to my door. I know you *did*. I thought you had wanted to take over my story, and at that point, I was almost ready to let you have it." At her stunned look, he added, "The story I mean."
"How can all of this be related to the story?" She was already almost regretting what she had said to him before, but she couldn't take it back.
"I don't know. After the argument we had yesterday morning, I was pretty sure everything that happened yesterday would have something to do with the story."
"You're really telling me that you were making tea and working on your notes when I came to your door?"
Clark started at the table where his t-shirt covered the notes he had been working with yesterday. If she didn't believe his words, maybe she would believe the evidence right in front of her.
He moved his shirt off of the table and said, "Look, here are my notes, right where I left them last night." He took a stack of papers and handed them to her. "See, notes from the press conference." Then he took another stack of notes and waved them in front of her face. "And these are from the interview with the union rep." He held up a few highlighters and pens, showing her that he had been working
"So what?" She was trapped. The evidence was before her, but she couldn't admit that she might be wrong.
"Nothing, I guess." He sighed deeply. If she wasn't going to believe the truth, he wasn't sure what to tell her. "And if you look on the stove, you'll see the tea kettle, probably still full of water that never made it into tea."
Lois glanced over her shoulder and into the kitchen. Maybe he was telling the truth. A tea kettle was sitting on the stove. She had no idea if it was full or not, or even if it was actually for tea. Still, through the fact that the notes were still on the table and the kettle was on the stove, he had to be telling at least a partial truth.
"Okay, so you say I came over on my own to try to get your story?" Maybe that was reasonable. It did seem like something she might consider doing. Clark knew her well, maybe too well.
"Well, yeah," Clark said simply. He decided to go on with his story, regardless of whether she believed him or not.
When Lois made no move to say anything, Clark continued, "Like I said, I seriously considered not opening the door. After the way you treated me yesterday morning, I certainly didn't want to see you, and I really didn't want you to see how much I was struggling with the story."
Lois shrugged in response deciding it would be better to remain silent and not start yet another argument over something completely unrelated to the issue at hand. She figured that the more cooperative she was, the sooner she could go home.
He ran a hand through his hair in frustration before he continued, "But you kept knocking, and I knew it was rude to leave you out there …"
Clark took a deep breath. He wasn't going to let her win. Easier said than done. He stood in front of the door, one hand on the doorknob ready to turn the handle. He didn't want to face Lois; not right now. If only he could have a few more hours to work on the story alone …
But that wasn't going to happen. He had to open the door to let her in. It was rude to leave her standing out there. His conscience wouldn't let him do it.
Why was he always so nice to people? He didn't have the heart to be deliberately mean to anyone without being provoked. Stupid Kansas upbringing. Maybe his parents had made a mistake teaching him such wholesome values.
Even if he would have had no qualms about leaving her out there, she had to know he was home. All of the lights in the living room and kitchen were on, and he wasn't being especially quiet. She probably had seen him walking around the apartment.
Before he had a chance to reconsider, he turned the handle and pulled the door open. She was standing right there before him looking as she had when she had left the newsroom that morning: same clothes, same expression, same maniacal look in her eyes, but she was holding a large, brown, paper bag that carried the strong smell of Chinese food.
"Lois?" He paused for a second wondering if he dared ask the obvious question. Did he really want to know the answer, to have his suspicions confirmed? Probably not, but he asked anyway, for lack of anything else to say. "What are you doing here?"
"Oh, I brought you dinner." She shrugged and then pushed by him to get into the apartment, and stomped into the kitchen.
"Come in," he said softly after she had already brushed by him and was well into the apartment. He shrugged, knowing he couldn't stop Lois when she had her mind set on something.
He had to ask the other obvious question, although he could probably guess the answer. "Why did you bring me dinner?" He gazed warily at the large bag and asked, "It *is* dinner, isn't it?" It wasn't all that unusual to find Lois standing at his door unannounced, but it was a bit unusual for her to be there bearing food after they'd had such a horrible fight. "It isn't poisoned," he asked in a voice too soft for her to hear.
"Yes, silly. Of course it's dinner." She shook her head slowly, deliberately. " What did you think it was, poison?" She laughed softly. "Anyway, I wanted to apologize," she said contritely as she proceeded to take different cartons of Chinese food out of the bag, "for the way I acted this morning. It was completely uncalled for."
Clark's breath caught in his chest, and he stared at her slack- jawed, unable to speak. It seemed impossible. Lois Lane had come to his apartment, bearing food of all things, intending to apologize to him? Was he hallucinating? She was *sorry*?
"Really?" he asked, voice laced with doubt. There had to be an ulterior motive somewhere in her mind. Lois Lane was never nice like this without a reason, and he had a good idea what she was after this time.
She smiled at him coquettishly from the kitchen. "Well, and I was also wondering how your story was going, and if you needed any, you know, help."
Finally. Her true motive. He'd known it was coming, but he had fallen for it. Almost. She was cunning, conniving, and brilliant.
He groaned, "Lois! I told you I don't need any help. Really. I don't need your help." If that sounded as convincing as he thought it did, he would never be able to get rid of her. She had to sense the fact that the story was driving him crazy. He was such a bad liar!
She put the carton she had been holding down onto the counter and took a few steps towards him. "Clark, I know you can handle it on your own. You're a great writer, and I'm sure you'll write a great story, but I wanted to see if you needed any help, any help at all. I'm not here to take over." She put her hand on his arm and smiled at him.
He looked at her hand, then into her eyes, and he wasn't convinced. Skeptically, he said, "Why don't I believe you?"
She looked down at the ground and then back up into his eyes. "You don't have any reason to believe me," she said softly and shrugged.
Clark took a deep breath. She sounded almost genuinely sincere. Either she was serious or she was an incredible actress. At this point, he was sort of leaning towards amazing dramatic thespian. These couldn't be her true feelings. To her, he was a stupid no- talent hick from a small town in a state she hated. To her, he would never be a great writer; he would never be able to write a good story on his own. If the story was this important to her, he'd give it to her in a second.
"Clark Kent, has anyone ever told you what beautiful eyes you have?" She batted her eyelashes at him and squeezed his arm again.
"What?" he said instantly. Was she flirting with him? Seriously? She had to be trying to brainwash him! Step one, bring him dinner. Check. Step two, compliment him. Check. Step three, steal his story.
It was brilliant. No, she was brilliant. And beautiful. Those eyes. That face. That body. That voice. She had to know exactly what she was doing to him. She was so sexy with an aura that radiated around her and sucked him in. He couldn't take his eyes off her, and right now he was willing to do anything she asked of him. She had to be enjoying every second of this. All he wanted to do was gather her in his arms and kiss her senseless.
He knew exactly what she was doing, yet it was still so hard to resist! He loved her, and a small part of him hoped, prayed, begged that she loved him back in some little way. She would never love him the way he loved her. To her, he would always be her professional rival, her sometimes partner, and her occasional friend.
She probably didn't even realize the depth of his feelings for her. Lois Lane was the first woman to ever sweep him off his feet. Lois didn't return those feelings. Oh, she did, but for Superman, not regular old farmboy Clark Kent. The look he saw in her eyes was genuine when she was with Superman. A part of himself questioned how she could feel one way towards one part of his life, but a completely different way to the man he wanted to be. He didn't want to deal with that question right now. It was hard enough without even bringing the dreaded S-word into the equation.
Her hand moved up his arm, and she squeezed his bicep appreciatively, softly moaning, "I never realized his good you feel."
Clark sighed. "Thank you," he responded weakly, for lack of anything else to say. Lois deserved an Oscar or an Emmy — some kind of award. She was so good at this game, although she had never gone this far before. On several occasions, she had stooped to shameless flirting to get a story before, but always from a source, never to take a story away from another reporter.
She took a step closer and put a hand on his other shoulder. He shuddered at the feel of her warm breath on his skin. Torture. How he longed to take her into his arms and hold her for eternity.
He shivered involuntarily as her other hand lightly brushed against his chest, finally resting on his other shoulder. It was all he could do not to lose it completely when she pressed her body against his and stared up into his eyes with a passion he had never seen.
His breath quickened, and his entire body aroused to her touch. No one would normally act this way for a story. Not even Lois. It wasn't even like the dockworkers' strike was huge news. Could Lois be trying to prove a point with him? But what kind of point could it be? That she would get the story from him in any way possible? That wasn't like Lois. Even though she hated admitting defeat, she would never stoop to this level. Her sense of professionalism would win out in the end.
"What are you doing, Lois?" He wanted to say something mean to her, but he couldn't make the words come out of his mouth; he couldn't believe this was all about his story.
She blinked, drawing her eyes away from his, and looked at the position of her two hands. Momentarily appearing confused, she said, "Oh, um, apologizing."
"Apologizing?" His jaw practically dropped in shock. "Really?"
"Really, Clark," she said sweetly, and brushed a hand against his cheek. "I feel bad about what I did this morning, so I brought dinner as a peace offering." She shrugged and said, "Didn't I tell you this already?"
Clark's heart pounded, excited about the feel of her hands on his body, but scared of what it meant. He had so many questions, but he didn't want to ask for fear the mood being broken. The only words that came to his mouth were, "What did you bring for dinner?"
Luckily, those simple words caused her hands to drop from his shoulders as she turned back to the kitchen. She answered him as she began spooning various foods onto two plates. "Your favorites. Moo goo gai pan, sweet and sour pork, chicken fried rice …"
She kept naming the various boxes of his and her favorite Chinese foods, and Clark followed her into the kitchen, still staring at her and shaking his head in shock. He couldn't believe all she wanted was an innocent dinner.
He interrupted, "You're really here for dinner?"
Lois turned her head up with an expression of innocence. When her eyes met his, she said, "Well, yeah." A little hint of doubt crept into her voice. "And maybe a movie? If you'll have me."
Maybe he was taking this too seriously. What if she really was trying to apologize? It wasn't like it had ever happened before, so he had no frame of reference. He smiled at her as a gesture of peace. "Okay," he said softly, and grabbed two plates from the cabinet to help her serve dinner. If she was going to be nice to him, he had better enjoy it while it lasted.
"You're lying," she said resolutely. "I would *never* act like that for a story. It sounds more like one of your crazy fantasies." She ran a hand through her hair agitatedly.
"I know," Clark said quickly. "That's why I was so confused. And you can believe whatever you want. I am telling the truth, Lois. You don't have to believe me, but I knew you wouldn't act like that for a story, so that's why I was so taken aback."
"But really, I brought you dinner? And I *served* it to you?"
"I told you, Lois. You completely threw me for a loop. I had no idea what to do." He took a deep breath and watched the expressions on Lois's face. She didn't believe him, and made no secret of that fact. Well, if she didn't believe him now, she would never believe the rest of what happened. He was starting to wonder if he was imagining it himself. "So I helped you serve dinner and we sat down to eat."
"Okay," she said softly. "Clark, I wouldn't have done that." She shook her head. "I couldn't have done that."
"I know! That's why I thought something was wrong! I *do* know you, and that's why I was so scared. I knew you wouldn't seduce me like that for a story."
"Yet you're telling me I did." She ran a nervous hand through her hair.
"No, I'm not saying that." He took another deep breath before he continued. "That's why I was so reluctant to believe what you told me last night."
"What do you mean?"
"I reluctantly agreed to eat the dinner you brought, but I was wary the entire time. I wasn't sure what you were up to, and I didn't want you to take advantage of *me*."
"How could I take advantage of you? You're Superman." She stood there emotionless, eyes fixed with his.
Her words felt like daggers through his heart. Yes, he was Superman, but he was still a man. He could overpower anyone physically, but emotionally, he was as vulnerable as any man, and right now, his heart was breaking. Lois's words were more painful than any kryptonite exposure.
He took his glasses off and rubbed the bridge of his nose. The pressure was building up, making his head feel like it was going to explode. He was too trusting, too accepting. Too stupid. "You knew how much I loved you, how I would do anything for you. I thought you would use that to your advantage to get something, anything, from me. You know I'd do anything for you." He took a deep breath and wiped his eyes.
"Chinese food?" she said, changing the subject stupidly, purposefully ignoring everything he had said. His words hurt her too badly. Love. Yeah right.
Without saying a word, Clark walked over to the refrigerator and opened it. On the top shelf, there were five white cartons with Chinese characters written on them. Chinese food.
"Oh," she said softly.
He tried to get the conversation back on track. "Lois, I didn't want to believe you were there to seduce me for the story."
"I don't believe it either," she repeated for what seemed like the fifth time.
He shrugged, unsure of how to continue. She obviously didn't believe him now, and probably never would.
"So why don't you tell me what happened next? We sat down to eat, and," she trailed off, coaxing him to continue.
Clark looked at her, surprised she actually wanted to hear more. "Well, the food was really good, so we ate almost in complete silence." He looked at her, unsure if he should tell her what had happened the rest of the night. "And as we ate, you sort of, um, played footsie with me."
He knew she wouldn't believe it. "Somehow, as we were eating, you had slipped both of your shoes off and …"
"Lois! What are you doing?" Clark jumped almost out of his chair. That was her foot. Against his ankle! He dropped his chopsticks and let the piece of chicken that had been nearly in his mouth drop onto the plate.
She looked up at him with an innocence he had never seen. Yet she wasn't innocent at all. A piece of sweet and sour pork dangled from her chopsticks and she slowly licked her lips before the piece of meat entered her waiting mouth.
Clark shivered involuntarily. God, why was she doing this to him?
She slowly chewed her food, obviously ignoring his question, and made a show of deliberately licking away a tiny drop of sauce from the corner of her lip.
"Lois," he breathed. "What are you doing?" He wasn't sure if the words made it out of his mouth. His heart beat erratically, and his mouth felt like it was full of cotton. It was like she was begging him to kiss her, hoping he would take that small bit of sauce from her lips.
Did he dare?
Her foot slowly traveled up his leg and at last rested between his thighs. Clark pushed his chair back and stood up. This was getting way too personal. What did she want from him? If she didn't want his story, maybe she wanted him.
Through rough, dry lips, Clark managed to croak, "Really, Lois, what are you doing?" Besides torturing him.
She blinked quickly as if to think about what he had asked her. When she closed her eyes, Clark couldn't help but stare at her long, luscious eyelashes. Was he wrong? Could she be seducing him? Everything she was doing seemed so deliberate.
"What do you mean? What am I doing?" She stood up and took a few steps towards him. He couldn't bring himself to take another step back, so she reached out a hand, and slowly teased his shirt and worked her hand down his chest. Their eyes met, and she grinned coquettishly. "This?" she purred.
Clark gulped audibly. "Yes," he managed to whisper.
He was overcome by the intense desire to pull her into his arms and kiss her senseless. Her pouty lips were so moist, so inviting; he wanted to taste them so badly, if only for a split second.
He took a step away from her, trying to clear his mind. Thinking was impossible when her hands were touching him. Her deliberate motions drove him crazy when she let her hands softly trail against his shoulders and chest …
She frowned in protest when he stepped away. "Clark, what are you doing? Can't you see I'm trying to seduce you?"
He did a double take. "What?"
"Seduce you. Now get back here so I can do it properly." She took a step towards him, and he stepped back again.
"Wha-wha- why?" he sputtered. Here was the woman of his dreams standing before him, telling him that she was trying to seduce him. And he had the audacity to question her motives.
She blinked, and stared into his eyes. "Because I realized today …"
When she trailed off, Clark jumped in, "Realized what?" The tension was killing him.
The corners of her mouth turned up into a smile, and he knew she was enjoying every moment. She averted her eyes and looked at the ground before she said, "That I think you are the most handsome, most generous, most wonderful man I know." She took a deep breath and continued, "And I think you feel the same way about me."
"How? How did that happen?" She had thrown herself at Superman, but she had never come on to him this obviously. It was him, Clark, not him, Superman, who Lois was throwing herself at now.
"Are you saying you *don't* feel the same way about me?" Her shoulders visibly sunk.
He had hurt her. "No, no, of course I feel the same way." He took a deep breath, almost knowing he would regret what he was about to tell her. "Lois, I've loved you since the moment I saw you when you came into Perry's office during my interview." Had he just made the biggest mistake of his life?
She smiled slightly. "I love you, too, Clark."
"You love me?" He wanted to do barrel rolls in the sky. "How did you? When did you? Why?"
Lois shrugged. "I have no idea. I think it was something that had built up for so long; I guess it finally hit a crescendo and exploded in my heart finally letting me see my true feelings."
"What about Superman?" Superman. He always had to bring up Superman. Why couldn't he enjoy the knowledge that Lois loved him even for a second?
Lois shook her head. "Superman who? It's *you* I want. Clark. My friend. My partner." She reached out to touch him again.
Clark took another step back. He was great until she said 'partner'. He probably would regret it for the rest of his life, but he said, "Go home, Lois."
She put both hands on his chest and moved her face so close he could feel her hot breath against his skin. Her lower lip jutted out into a sassy pout, and she whispered, "You don't really want me to go, do you?"
He shivered when he felt her warm breath against his cheek. God, he wished he could tell her to stay. He wanted her so badly.
"Clark," she whispered into his ear.
"Lois," he answered in a voice so soft, he couldn't believe Lois could hear it. Their lips were lips mere millimeters apart. He ached to feel her lips against his.
"You don't really want me to leave, do you?" she repeated.
He shook his head slowly, deliberately. What he really wanted to do was kiss her. Why couldn't she love him? It was what he had wanted for oh so long, needed oh so badly. For once in his life, he had to forget his inhibitions, to let his instincts take over. Lois had told him she loved him, and he had told her how much he loved her. They should raise the roof in celebration. He shouldn't have to question her every motive. They were two people in love. He was filled with a sense of euphoria, unbridled by anything he had ever experienced. "I love you, Lois," he whispered. "I've always loved you."
Lois's lips turned into a grin as she whispered, "I love you, too." She licked her lips quickly and inched ever closer to him. He closed his eyes and waited for her lips to gently touch his.
She tilted her head, and brushed her nose against his before her lips softly brushed against his. After pulling back slightly, she ran her lips against his again, this time letting them linger even longer.
A jolt of electricity soared through his body as he surrendered to the feel of her soft lips against his, to the pure torture created by friction between their lips. He wanted to kiss her harder, more completely. These intensely wonderful tiny kisses weren't enough.
He wrapped his arms around her back, allowing one hand to tangle in her long, silky hair as his other hand ran its way up and down her back.
Clark's head swirled when he felt her cool hand against his stomach. Today, he wasn't wearing the Suit. He had taken it off, planning to be at home anyway and could change at a moment's notice. Sometimes having a secret identity sucked. He would have to tell her the truth about Superman eventually. He'd do it in the morning, or later this week, or sometime next year. No, he would do it in the morning. All he wanted to do was revel in the feel of her sweet kiss and soft touch. He never wanted their lips to break, and hoped this moment would last forever.
Tonight, he would forget about Superman all together. Just for one night, he wanted to be normal. Right here, right now, he was Clark Kent. And he wanted Lois Lane.
He let his mind focus only on the physical sensations of the kiss, ignoring everything else in the world. This was their first real kiss as two people in love, and he wanted to savor it.
The pleasurable friction of their lips melding together and the shocks sent through his body when she brushed her nose against his were the most amazing feeling in the world. He couldn't believe how lucky he was. Before he knew it, Lois had worked her hand completely under his shirt and was exploring his stomach.
He shivered involuntarily, still not sure how he would be able to cope with all of the new sensations she was giving him.
She pulled away and whispered, "I love you, Clark."
He moaned slightly at the feeling of abandonment when he no longer felt the pressure of her lips against his.
Instead of kissing him again, she reached up and caressed his cheek, saying, "I can't believe I never knew."
"How right this would feel. How much I've been missing. How much I love you."
"This *does* feel right, Lois. So right." He pulled her hand to his mouth and planted a series of soft kisses on each of her fingers. "I love you, too."
He let go of her hand and leaned down to kiss her again, missing the feeling of her lips against his. He wanted to suck her lips until they could no longer breathe. It had taken so long for them to finally admit their feelings for one another; he wasn't going to miss another second! He laced his hands through her long, silky hair and again lost himself in their kiss.
He needed to sit down. She was so intoxicating. Her kisses. Her caresses.
It was amazing. He was the strongest man in the world, yet one touch from Lois Lane could transform him into a weak puddle of goo. He melted at the feel of her body against his. He was powerless in her presence.
She shivered slightly, and Clark said, "Are you okay?"
"I'd be even more okay if you were closer to me," she whispered. She reached up and put a hand behind his head, gently guiding him towards her mouth to kiss her again.
"Clark, I need you," she whispered against his cheek. "I need you so badly."
"Oh, Lois, I need you, too."
"Let's take this to the bedroom."
He swept her into his arms and took the few steps into his room. He wanted her. He needed her. He let his lips capture hers again before he set her down on the bed.
When their kiss broke, Lois whispered, "I love you, Clark."
He grinned at her, saying, "I love you, too." Then he softly put her down on the bed, ready for anything that would happen.
She put her hand on his shirt, and pulled him down on top of her, and then moved her hand to the waistband of his pants. He put his hand on hers, halting her motions. "Oh god, Lois. Wait."
She ignored him completely, and continued to work her hands around the top button of his jeans.
"Wait, Lois, there's something I have to tell you." He sat up slightly and put his hand on top of hers.
She looked up at him quizzically, not moving her hand from his pants. "What is it, Clark," she whispered.
"I'm, I'm … Oh god, Lois." This was so hard to say. "I'm … a … virgin."
"A what?" She abruptly pulled her hand away from his pants and jumped back slightly.
He felt his cheeks reddening. Of course she didn't believe him. How many twenty-seven year old men were virgins? "A virgin," he repeated, almost silently.
Her shocked expression turned into a wide, diabolical grin as she said, "Well, we're just going to have to change that, now aren't we?"
"What?" Lois exclaimed animatedly. "You told me what?"
That was the last straw. She couldn't listen to this insanity any more. Clark Kent sure was a great story teller. Too bad she didn't believe a single word he said. Lies. All lies from a world-class liar.
He was a virgin? Yeah right. Impossible. Okay, maybe not completely impossible. There were some men his age who kept their sacred virginity. Yeah, like priests and monks and really nerdy guys who went to engineering schools in the Midwest and were afraid of girls. Not men like Clark.
"I am … was … a virgin," he said softly. "Last night was my first time." It had seemed like the right choice to lose his virginity last night, but now he was beginning to wish it had never happened.
"And you expect me to believe that?"
"It was my first time," he repeated. "And it was amazing." It had been the best night of his life. The woman he had loved with all his heart for so long had finally admitted she returned that love. She was the one woman he had been willing to love. For almost thirty years, he had waited for her.
It had been too good to be true. He whispered, "I can't believe you don't remember." He took a deep breath to calm himself. "Please remember."
Lois sighed. She wished she could remember. Even if she had come to him, she still had a major problem with everything he had told her. "How could you sleep with me without telling me about yourself?"
"About myself?" He had a feeling he knew exactly what she meant, but he wanted to delay the inevitable conflict.
"That you are Superman." She angrily spat the name, her voice filled with absolute contempt. He was a vile, superpowered rodent liar.
He gasped at the shear anger in her voice. "It was a mistake. I was wrong. You're right. I never should have done anything with you before you knew the truth about me."
She narrowed her eyes in anger. How dare he play Mr. Innocent! He had told her the biggest lie in the entire world. In fact, he had a history of lying. She had known him for HOW long as two separate people? He had a secret identity for god's sake! "Damn right."
"I admit, I was a fool not to tell you about my being Superman before we made love, but …" He trailed off, not exactly wanting to complete his sentence.
"But what?" she demanded.
"You said …"
"Take off your glasses," she whispered.
His heart raced. "My glasses?"
"Take them off. I want to look into your eyes."
Without a second thought, Clark removed his glasses and set them on the nightstand, happy to do anything his lover asked. He knew the consequences of removing his disguise. Without his glasses, Lois was sure to see that he was Superman, but that didn't matter. He had to tell her the truth about himself before anything else happened.
Lois smiled widely. "I don't think I've ever seen you without those before."
He shook his head. "No, you haven't," he said through gritted teeth.
"Has anyone every told you how much you look like Superman?" she whispered, as she brought her head up until her lips were just inches away from his.
"Lois, I have to tell you …" He trailed off, forgetting what he was going to say entirely, as her lips captured his again.
She pulled away for a second, and said, "Every woman in love thinks her man looks like Superman."
He pulled away from her kiss, and whispered, "I am Superman."
Their bodies melded together as one, and his mind went almost completely blank. The only thing he could think was that this feeling was better than anything he had ever imagined
"Lois," Clark breathed, "I hadn't planned to go all the way. It happened. You were on top of me, and the passion took over. I don't know how I ended up inside you, but I did. And it was amazing."
"Oh my god," was all she could say.
He ran a hand through his hair before he continued, "You came to my house, practically undressed me yourself, and then we made the most incredible love."
"Didn't you realize I wasn't myself?"
He took a deep breath, the pain growing in his heart. "I thought you had finally fallen for me, like I'd hoped and prayed you would for so long. I've been in love with you from the first moment I saw you. You have no idea what it felt like to have to say those words to me."
She shook her head, unable to listen to anything more he had to say. Men. God, she certainly knew how to pick them. For someone so smart, she certainly had a horrible track record. They were all after one thing. Sex. She'd thought Clark Kent was different. And he had the audacity to call what they had done 'making love'. Lois had never 'made love'. Everything including last night had been pure, raw sex where the man wasn't emotionally involved, and she was incredibly emotionally involved.
This time, it was different. Both Clark and Superman had been the only men in the world she had trusted implicitly. But they he had done something unthinkable. Not only had the two men she had trusted turned out to be one horribly deceitful scumbag, but he certainly wasn't the safe, purely good man she had envisioned. She hadn't been herself or in control of any of her decisions. And he had taken advantage of her. "Clark, you don't understand. I wasn't myself. I didn't consent. You *knew* what you did was wrong, yet you still did it."
He put his hand on top of hers and said, "Lois, you *did* consent. You came on to me. You invited me into the bedroom. You made love with me …"
She pulled her hand away and began pacing around the room, her dismay growing with each step. "Stop saying 'made love'. We didn't make love, Clark. You had hot, wild sex with a drunk or drugged android." The words didn't sound right coming out of her mouth, but she couldn't stop herself. She took a deep breath and said, "You raped me."
"I what? How?"
"You raped me. You took advantage of me when I was in a compromised state."
He couldn't believe what he was hearing. "Lois, you seduced me!"
"Define seduction. I didn't know what I was doing."
He threw his hands up into the air. "Lois, you were the aggressor."
She stopped in front of him and said, "I wasn't myself."
He took a deep breath, trying to control his emotions. "Lois, how could I know you weren't yourself? I'm not a mind reader."
She squinted her eyes at him angrily. "How do I know that, Superman."
"Believe me, I'm not. Lois, you came to my house, fed me, and came on to me. Other than that, you seemed normal. I didn't notice anything wrong. I thought this was what you wanted."
She threw her hands up into the air. "How could I have wanted this, liar?" she hissed.
"Maybe you should go," he whispered, voice shaking too much to speak any louder. He was so hurt and so angry at the same time. How dare Lois say those things about him.
"You aren't going to follow me?" She stood up and took a few steps towards the door.
He shook his head, unable to say anything to challenge her. When she was finally at the door, he said, "You really don't remember anything?"
"Nothing," she said as she walked out the door, out of his life forever.
His life was ruined. The love of his life had accused him of an unspeakable crime, and now he had no idea what to do. He knew he hadn't raped her, but he had no idea how to tell her that … and have her believe him.
Maybe he hadn't noticed any of the signs. What if he had been so enraptured by the thought that she finally loved him that he had ignored the fact that she had seemed different? What if he really had misread her signals? It had seemed like she had wanted him just as much as he had wanted her.
If he had done what she'd said he had, he should be locked away for years. And Superman was dead. He had no right to claim to be the world's hero. What he had thought was so right, so meant to be, had turned out to be a horrible mistake.
She was free.
Lois took a breath of fresh air, her lungs no longer constricted by fear, but her mind racing uncontrollably.
That was a bit melodramatic. If she really though about it, Clark hadn't been keeping her prisoner exactly. He had seemed willing to let her go. She tried to listen to his story with a dispassionate ear, but he had struck a cord with her. At points it had seemed like he had been imagining a horrific story, but at other times it had seemed like he was almost telling the truth. As long as she had known both Clark and Superman, he had never lied to her. Well, other than the biggest lie in the world.
Once a liar, always a liar. She couldn't believe he hadn't told her he was Superman before he had slept with her. What kind of louse was he? Plus, she didn't believe that Clark or especially Superman was a virgin! He was a good liar, but with this one, he had gone too far over the top.
She couldn't believe she wasn't more upset that he had been lying to her almost since the moment he met her. What she was upset about, actually, was the fact that he had thought she had come over to his apartment and practically begged for sex! Like she would *ever* beg for sex with *anyone*.
Even if he thought she would instantly sleep with Superman if he had merely offered, he was sorely mistaken. The reason she had fallen so hard for the superhero was that he was someone she could never have. If he would have returned the same interest, she would have probably ran and hid. Her past relationships had been such disasters that she guarded herself very closely. Not even Superman could have penetrated her fortress of solitude.
The slightly chilly breeze brushed against her face, and she shivered involuntarily. She picked up her pace and almost jogged the few blocks home.
She believed at least part of his story. He probably hadn't been the one who had drugged her. That didn't fit with what she knew of both Clark and Superman. It seemed against his character for him to turn so evil so quickly.
However, he had to have known she wasn't herself, and that was still rape. He knew her better than that. She would never come to his apartment with dinner in exchange for sex! He didn't find that a little odd? She hadn't been in any state of mind to consent. Therefore, he had forced himself on her. It didn't matter if she seemed like she was asking for it. Rape was a power issue, and maybe he had wanted to prove that he wasn't the sissy she was always walking all over.
After all, yesterday morning hadn't been fun for him. She had told him repeatedly that he was a sub-par reporter, and that he was more worthy of a stupid story about bugs than real hard news. He probably wanted to prove something to her. And what better way to show her that he could dominate her in at least one area of life. But again that didn't seem like the Clark or the Superman she had known. Now that her head was clear, she could really focus on what had really happened.
It would help if she could remember anything from yesterday at all. She also couldn't let Clark's story influence her memories. This she needed to remember on her own.
She approached her apartment quickly, and was overcome with an urge to run inside and take a shower to get all of the dirty, disgusting feelings off her body. Her eyes drifted down to the paper resting on the doormat. Aah, comfort. The "Daily Planet". At last something familiar.
She picked it up without looking at it, and she began turning each of the locks sequentially, and the door swung open. Home. After a hot shower and a change of clothes, and a strong cup of coffee, maybe she would be able to think.
She entered her living room, and tossed the paper down on the couch unable to look at it yet. Her eyes drifted to her coffee table which was covered by a stack of papers. Notes from an interview with Gale Jensen at the PCD. For the fruit fly story.
She tossed the papers down onto the table and leaned back on the couch. The tension that had built up behind her eyes was almost unbearable, and her headache from before hadn't really dissipated. It wouldn't go away until she figured out this whole mess.
When she leaned back on the couch to put her head down for a moment, she felt the paper under her head. She pulled it out and looked at it. Her jaw dropped in shock. "What the hell?"
On the 'Daily Planet' logo, all of the a's and o's had been turned into bright red hearts! Even worse, there were little cupids down either side of the front page, and the leading story was titled, 'Love Wins Out!'
"What!" She shook her head slowly. "Is this a joke?" Even worse, was this actually the real 'Daily Planet'?
Lois quickly grabbed the phone and dialed her editor's office. After three rings, Perry's gruff voice came over the line. He breathlessly said, "Talk to me, I'm your hunk-a hunk-a burnin' love."
"What?" she exclaimed. "Perry, it's Lois. I saw the morning edition, and …"
"Wonderful, isn't it. Olsen designed the new logo and the graphics people made those cute little cupids. And Ralph turned in a masterpiece of a leading story!"
"What! You led with a story about a couple who had been reunited after fifty years apart? By Ralph?"
"Rahelia!" the editor exclaimed, and the phone went dead before Lois could do anything.
"Perry, Perry, are you there?" When her only answer was a dial tone, Lois sighed and hung up the phone. Something was going on in the newsroom, and needed to find out what it was.
As much as her head still hurt, she knew she needed to get in to work as soon as possible to figure this out. But first she needed to shower and get dressed. She still felt so dirty after everything that had happened.
She stood up, ready to take her shower, her eyes rested on her blinking answering machine. With great trepidation, she pressed the button and Lex Luthor's voice filled her room. Oh god, she'd completely forgotten about him!
"Lois, darling, I'm calling to confirm our dinner reservations for tomorrow night."
Then the machine had continued to record after she had picked up the phone.
"Lex!" she heard herself exclaim. "Just the person I wanted to talk to. I was about to call you."
"Oh really?" he drawled, sounding very proud of himself.
"I can't have dinner with you tomorrow night."
"Oh," he said, his voice tinted with surprise. "Might I ask why?"
"You see, I can't have dinner with you because my heart belongs to someone else."
"Kent?" he hissed, irritation evident in his voice.
Seemingly oblivious to his displeasure, she continued, "There is only one man in the world for me. I am completely, utterly, undeniably in love with Clark Kent."
"Kent?" he hissed again, his obvious displeasure growing.
"I want to spend the rest of my life with him, so I'm really sorry, but I can't have dinner with you any more. That would be like cheating on Clark."
"Exactly, Clark Kent, my love, my lover, my dreamboat." She paused for a second before she continued, "Good bye Lex. I'm sorry. The heart works in mysterious ways."
Before Lex could respond, the answering machine cut off.
Lois felt her cheeks redden and her jaw drop considerably. She had broken up with Lex Luthor and had told him that she was in love with Clark? God, she had sounded so brazen, so inconsiderate, so completely set on the fact that Clark Kent was her dream lover. No wonder Lex had sounded so taken aback! It was like she had lost all of her manners, and her every sense of common courtesy!
She closed her eyes and ran her hands through her long hair in frustration. How on Earth had this happened?
When she opened her eyes, she inadvertently glanced down at the notes scattered on the table. "Oh my god," she found herself whispering.
On the top page of notes, she saw doodles in her own handwriting, large hearts with arrows through them reading 'LL + CK 4-ever!' and 'Lois Loves Clark!' and, even worse, 'Lois Lane Kent'.
What had come over her? It was like she had been possessed by a completely different person for the last day! It looked like everyone she knew was possessed by the same psychopath.
What if Clark had been telling the truth?
Clark closed his eyes and tried to go back to sleep to forget about what had happened in the last twelve hours. Most of it had been the most wonderful time of his life. But then it had all gone to hell as quickly and as unexpectedly as it had begun last night.
Rape. Superman. Lois. Rape.
Didn't she know he would never do anything like that? What if she had gone to the police after she had left his apartment? Why hadn't he followed her? What if she had told someone about him? Was his world about to come crashing down around him? If she didn't remember anything that had happened yesterday or acknowledge that his version of the story had been true, how could he blame her for at least some of the assumptions she had made? Logically, they worked, but if she examined her logic, she would see that it was ludicrous.
Clark floated a few inches up from his couch, and sighed deeply. How had he gotten into this situation? He had made the mistake of loving Lois Lane and letting those feelings become all- consuming. He hadn't questioned her enough. He hadn't doubted his own emotions. Regardless of what he had done wrong, the only thing that was important was that he hadn't raped her. She had been a more than willing participant.
He rolled over in the air and covered his head with his hands. How had it come to this? Even though she had accused him of a heinous crime, he was still cursed to love her. It was completely irrational, but there was that undeniable force pulling him to her, no matter how badly she treated him. At this moment he didn't really like her, and he couldn't respect her skills as an investigative journalist here; she hadn't looked at any of the facts objectively. Yet he couldn't hate her, as hard as he tried.
And oh, he had tried. He wasn't a masochist.
He crashed down onto the couch and put his head in his hands, fighting the urge to scream in frustration. Why had he been cursed to love Lois Lane? Why was he such a spineless fool? He loved her even though she hated him with an unrivaled passion. That love was unconditional and never-ending.
Why did he want her so badly when she kept treating him so horribly? No matter how hard he tried, he couldn't force himself to stop loving her. She had called him stupid, a hick, a sub par reporter, and far worse on a daily basis ever since the day he'd met her.
Although she had a tendency to be somewhat controlling at times, and often had unfair double standards, he knew it was a defense mechanism. Deep down, she was loyal, supportive, and, dare he say, loving. On those rare instances when she let her guard slip, she let him know that she cared for him, too, even if only for a moment.
In her life, she had been hurt so often and so deeply. She found it hard to open her heart to anyone. He knew that she knew the pain he had felt all his life so intimately. They were kindred spirits, alone in the world, destined for each other. From the moment he first seen her, he had *known* that she was the woman he was meant to love.
But now he wasn't sure. Maybe he had been horribly wrong thinking she could love him. Maybe he really was a masochist. Nothing in the world could hurt him except Kryptonite and Lois Lane. He was insane.
However, maybe he was in the wrong, too. He had known how much other men in her life had hurt her. And he had gone and done the same thing. In fact, his own crime might have been far worse than anyone else's. Deception. He had portrayed himself as someone she could trust someone who would never hurt her. But he had done that as two separate people.
He had convinced her he was both Clark and Superman and he had let that go on far too long. But it had been so complicated. He had always known that he *needed* to tell her, but he had never been exactly sure *when* to tell her the truth about himself. He kept putting it off until it was too late. Now he had to face the consequences.
Oh god, it kept getting more complicated by the second. He had no idea how to get everything back to normal.
He picked up the phone and dialed the familiar numbers and waited as it rang.
"Come on," Lois grunted. "Why can't I remember?"
She put her head in her hands, desperately trying to make the memories spool back into place. God, she needed to know what had happened yesterday. Almost more importantly, she needed to find out what had caused her to lose her memory of an entire day.
Although she had initially suspected Clark of getting her drunk to have his way with her, as soon as she was able to think clearly she had realized that she had been wrong. He couldn't do something so horrible; he didn't have the capacity. He had been her friend, and even though he had lied to her since the moment she had met him, she couldn't believe he was a serial rapist with a stock of Kryptonian magical rape drugs.
Something had made her fall madly in love with Clark, though. There was enough evidence of that in the doodles she had made on her notes. Maybe it had something to do with whatever was happening in the newsroom. But why would she have recovered and they still seem to be crazy?
It all started with remembering what had happened last night. Yes, she needed to figure out what was happening at work, but she really needed to remember what she had done last night. Forcing her memory was never going to work. Believing Clark's version of last night wouldn't work either. After all, she couldn't deal with the fact that she might never remember. It wasn't going to happen. She was going to fight this.
Okay, she needed to start off slowly. She couldn't push herself. So what did she remember? All the signs point to the fact that she had been to the PCD. Plus, at some point yesterday after the pest control division, but before she had ended up at Clark's she had broken up with Lex Luthor.
God, Lex Luthor. Now he confused things even more. She needed to forget about him for a minute. He wasn't that important. It wasn't even the fact that she had broken up with Lex. Strangely, that didn't even matter to her. She didn't really like him sure it was flattering to have the third richest man in the world for a boyfriend, but he was a slimy jerk when she really thought about it. Something was a little weird about him. No, that wasn't the point. Lex Luthor was insignificant.
She needed to focus. Now that her head wasn't pounding quite as badly and she was no longer hearing the drum line of the Metro State Marching Band in her ears, she had better concentrate.
"Clark," she whispered. "Superman." Saying the two names together didn't make it seem any more real. Clark Kent was Superman. Superman was Clark Kent. Dwelling on that point didn't make her remember anything about yesterday. Yes, he was Superman. Yes, he had lied to her. Yes, she had slept with him.
"Clark," she whispered, as tears began to fall down her cheeks, melding with the hot water from the shower. "How did you let this happen? How did I let it happen?"
She closed her eyes and rested her head against the wall and let the hot, soothing water run down her body. She remembered waking up next to him, scared of what they had done. She remembered admiring his muscular shoulders and well-sculpted body. She remembered looking into his eyes and wanting to kiss him senseless.
She was alone, and more importantly she was safe. Her door and windows were locked, and no one, except maybe Superman could get in.
Superman. That brought her back to Clark.
"Clark," she whispered. "How could you do this to me? I trusted you."
Water trickled down her body down her face, dripping onto her shoulders, down her chest, stomach, and legs; a shiver raced through her body as the water droplets followed a path Clark's fingers had last night.
Déjà vu. Pleasure, a feeling she'd never thought she'd experience again. She remembered. It was almost like she felt. They were real. His warm kisses. His lips softly pressing against her skin. The soft trails of kisses on her lips and face. God, his lips were so soft, had felt so good against hers. She remembered tasting a small hint of fried rice when their lips had come together as one.
Fried rice. Chinese food. Clark hadn't lied to her about having Chinese food last night.
But that wasn't the only sobering revelation. She had *wanted* to kiss Clark Kent. Wanted it desperately! She had enjoyed his kisses.
The soapy water trailed a winding path along her body, and she realized that she could almost feel his lips against her skin. And she had liked it. Pleasure. Intense desire. She had wanted it, needed it, loved it.
Squeezing her eyes shut tightly, she tried to remember. His lips. His kisses. His tongue. She remembered, oh so vividly …
Their lips melded together; and their hands explored areas never before privileged to touch, evoking and experiencing pleasurable sensations neither had even imagined. She had never expected Clark Kent to be such a good kisser.
Running her hand up and down his back, she marveled at the well- defined muscles that lay beneath his thin t-shirt. Clark sure hid his physique well! Wow! Those were some hard muscles. She slipped her hand under his shirt's hem, reveling at the feel of his smooth skin under her fingers. At the same time, she shivered when his hands brushed against her sides, and she moaned slightly against his kiss.
"Don't stop," she whispered against his lips.
She wanted him so badly. No, she *needed* him.
It had been a long time since she had been with a man. Too long. She couldn't remember the last time. Maybe it had been with Claude?
Claude. God, he was someone she never wanted to think of again. That experience had made her so guarded, so closed off around men especially men she liked. She'd given herself to him fully, but all she'd gotten in return was a stolen story she had worked so hard for.
But, no. Clark wasn't Claude. She couldn't compare the two.
She took a deep breath, closed her eyes for a second, and when she opened them, she finally saw Clark for what he truly was a scared, timid, inexperienced man. Clark was a man with needs and feelings, and without the capacity to hurt a fly. Not even a fruit fly.
And his eyes were full of passion, a passion directed at her and only her. Forever. He loved her.
But even though the love and desire were evident in his eyes, Clark seemed so very timid around her. Even though he was quite talented, she guessed that his skills were rather raw, and he wasn't exactly comfortable around a woman. She found the thought that Clark was inexperienced kind of hard to believe, though. Clark was an attractive, smart, funny young man from a small town in the middle of nowhere a breed likely quite hard to find. Every girl from Smallville must have lined up for miles for a chance with him.
That was not her biggest concern now, though. She couldn't care less about his past, especially right now. All she wanted to think about was the intense pleasure he was giving her with his hands stroking her skin and his tongue exploring her mouth.
But she wanted more. So much more. But Clark would never move on without her permission.
Lois reluctantly backed away from the kiss and whispered, so he could hear her this time, "Take it off, Clark."
That appeared to be the encouragement Clark needed.
No sooner had she finished saying his name, than he was already acting on her demand. In a flash, he helped her pull her shirt off and unhooked her bra. It seemed like he managed it all in one fluid motion. Amazing.
This was what she had been looking for. Clark was, indeed, a take-charge kind of guy; all he needed was a bit of encouragement.
Not only was he charming, good looking, and cared about her so deeply like she had never expected anyone to care for her, he was the kind of man who could steal her heart.
She turned off the water in the shower, and stared at her hands in shock, not sure what to do, unable to believe her memories. That couldn't have been what had happened. Had she fallen for Clark Kent?
The memories were so vivid. They had to be hers.
The feelings were so real. His hands. His lips. His love. Her love. Her love? She had felt like she loved him, like she wanted him, like she needed him more than anything else.
She had encouraged him. Clark had been shocked. She had ambushed him. Plus, she had encouraged him to go farther than he had wanted. He had been willing to stop at kissing, yet she had pushed him to much greater heights of pleasure.
Why him? Why now?
She had never been interested in him before. So what had caused her to suddenly find him the most desirable man on Earth? Okay, when she had first met him, she had found him attractive. Okay, incredibly attractive. Okay, okay, he was a hunk. She'd even used the word 'hot' once or twice.
Okay, when she had first seen him in only a towel, she had wanted to rip the towel off. But she had *thought* about it, and never actually *done* it.
Yes, the desire had always been there. It had been heavily masked, but definitely there. She had never consciously acted on one of those desirous feelings or never even admitted to herself that she felt this way. Her inhibitions had always been there, and their boundaries were too strong to ever let her impulses through.
Why had it happened now? What had been the catalyst? He had been her friend. Her only friend. Her best friend. She hadn't wanted to jeopardize their friendship by acting on her attraction. Plus, she had known how attracted to her he was. He couldn't hide his emotions nearly as well as he obviously thought he could.
He'd wanted her. She'd wanted him.
Last night, they had reached the same inevitable conclusion, and had mutually satisfied each other's needs.
Yet he had to have known something had been different about the way she was acting last night. If she had seduced him, and actually wanted to sleep with him, and actually told him she loved him, he had to have realized she wasn't herself!
Maybe he had still taken advantage of her. Or maybe she had convinced him that she really did want him right then without waiting. And she had probably convinced him that she was enjoying it, too.
Because she had enjoyed each and every second of their love making. Yes, their love making. It hadn't been just sex. They had shared a beautiful expression of a wonderful, all- encompassing love. The sex was only a small part of the entire package.
Clark loved her, revered her. He had treated her like a queen, and had let her call all of the shots unsure of doing anything before she told him she was ready and she wanted him to do it.
Ever since the moment they had met, he had loved her. She had always known it. If she hadn't loved him since the moment they met, she had been attracted to him. When they had traveled to Smallville together, she had been prepared to hate it and him. She hated to admit it, but that stupid Corn Festival had been really fun. She had enjoyed meeting his parents and seeing what his life was like growing up. When that little police officer or sheriff, whatever Rachel Harris, and the way she was all touchy- feely with Clark, Lois's blood had boiled with jealousy. And when Trask had aimed the gun at Clark's head, Lois had realized what it would feel like to lose him. He meant so much to her, and she didn't know what she would do without him.
And, yes, she couldn't lie to herself. They were romantic feelings. She had pushed them to the back of her mind, never to be brought to the surface.
Again she was hit by a sobering memory. Their lovemaking had been wonderful. So wonderful, in fact, that she could still feel his mouth against hers, his fingers on her skin, the passion that had ignited so many sparks of electricity between them.
Throughout it all, it had seemed like he was just as clumsy and inexperienced as she felt.
The memories were so vivid. It was like now that the gate had been opened, her memories came forth with no resistance.
After Clark had given her the most intense pleasure she had ever felt …
She needed to give him the same pleasure he had given her. That thought was her sole focus.
Clark Kent was going to experience the most intense pleasure of his life, courtesy of Lois Lane.
She moved her hand to the waistband of his pants, but he put his hand on hers, halting her motions. "Oh god, Lois. Wait."
She ignored him completely, and continued to work her hands around the top button of his jeans.
"Wait, Lois, there's something I have to tell you." He sat up slightly and put his hand on top of hers, halting her ministrations.
She looked up at him quizzically, not moving her hand from his pants. "What is it, Clark?" she whispered.
"I'm … I'm …"
"I've never told anyone this before." A deep crimson blush spread across his cheeks.
"Don't worry, Clark. You can tell me." She leaned down and kissed his soft, inviting lips again.
"Oh god, Lois. I'm a virgin."
The words had spilled out of his mouth so quickly, she wasn't sure if she had heard him correctly. "A what?" She abruptly backed away.
"A virgin," he repeated, this time almost in a whisper.
"A what?" No, it was impossible! She had thought he seemed a bit inexperienced, but a virgin?
"A virgin," he repeated, almost silently.
Suddenly, a feeling overcame her, telling her that she would be his first. It was all-consuming. The thought of teaching a man not any man — Clark Kent — about sex excited her more than anything else ever had.
She smiled, and said, "Well, we're going to have to change that, now aren't we?"
Wow, had she wanted him. The feeling was so powerful, so unsettling, so wonderful, so frightening.
She believed him. He had told her the truth. Clark wasn't a rapist. Up until last night, he had been a virgin. Once he had told her that he was a virgin, she had wanted nothing more than to be his first, his only. They had experienced something so special together. They both had made love for the first time.
In both forms, Clark Kent was a decent man. Why was she accusing him of such horrible crimes? What happened to the concept of innocent until proven guilty?
She still didn't know why, but she had gone to his apartment yesterday to seduce him. And she had done an incredible job. And it had to have been related to what was happening at the 'Planet'. She needed to find out what had happened to her — to everyone.
She had to get to work. And soon. Why had Perry had led with a story about a couple being reunited. By RALPH? Why had Perry called himself a 'hunk-a hunk-a burnin' love'! It wasn't even Valentine's Day!
More troubled than ever, but for different reasons than before, she stepped out of the shower, and quickly dried her hair, got dressed, and applied a small amount of make up. Then she grabbed her notes off the table, and rushed out the door.
The only thing she was afraid of was that Clark would be at work, too. She needed to talk to him, to apologize for accusing him, but she wasn't sure if she was ready to face him yet — or ever — after the way she had acted.
She had been so horrible, so brutal, so unyielding, that she wasn't sure if their relationship could ever be salvaged. The words she had said to Clark had been devastating. She had accused him of a horrible crime without a second thought, and without even thinking about the person she knew him to be.
Even if he did listen to her apology, how did she know that he would accept her as a friend again? Would he ever trust her again?
She took a deep breath and took the final steps out the door. Even though she didn't want to think about it ever again, she knew she was going to have to face this sooner or later. And if she wanted to figure out what happened to her, she would have to face her wrongdoings and apologize to Clark. He was the only person who could help her right now.
But not yet. She wasn't ready to face him.
She had to find out what was going on at the 'Planet' first.
The phone rang once, twice, three times, then a woman's voice said, "Hello?"
"Mom," Clark said weakly into the phone. He floated a few inches off the couch, holding his head in his hand.
"Clark, honey, what's wrong?" his mother's anxious voice came across the line.
He paused for a second, unable to come up with the right words to accurately convey his emotions.
"Clark?" she repeated.
"I," he sputtered, still not knowing where to begin. He was completely emotionally drained. Part of him wanted to cry, but he couldn't force the tears to come.
What would crying solve? Would it bring Lois back? Would it bring him back to last night to make different choices?
"I don't know what happened."
"What do you mean? Clark, are you okay?"
"No," he said pitifully. "I'm not okay. I can't believe it. It's like all my worst nightmares are coming true."
"What do you mean?" she repeated. "Is it Lex Luthor? Is it Kryptonite again?"
"Worse," he whispered. "It's Lois."
He took a deep breath, almost uncomfortable sharing this with his mother, but knowing there was no one else in the world that would understand him as well. "We had the most amazing night last night."
"Well that's good?" Her voice was filled with caution, not wanting to make any assumptions.
"It was good. It was incredible. Lois told me she loved me, too, and we shared the best night of my life." He flipped in the air in frustration.
"That's wonderful, sweetheart."
"It was, Mom. Oh god, it was. But then everything changed."
"Everything changed. It seems like everything that happened yesterday was actually a figment of my imagination."
"Clark, slow down. You're not making sense."
"That's it. It doesn't make sense. Nothing makes sense. How could I have been so stupid? I mean of course she couldn't have really wanted me. I should have known."
"Clark!" his mother exclaimed. "Known what?"
"That she didn't really want me. I mean, how could she? I should have known something was wrong. I'm nothing but a stupid idealist who thought Lois Lane might eventually fall for him. Like she could ever love me. Huh. I am so delusional."
"What are you delusional about? Are you saying she doesn't love you?"
"No, she doesn't love me. She'll never love me. Why would she ever love me? I mean, yesterday morning she hated me. She told me I was a sub-par reporter who didn't deserve my story! How could I have believed that she had gone from hating me to loving me in a matter of hours? I should to have known something wasn't right." By the end his words jumbled together, and even he wasn't sure what he was saying.
"Clark, honey, slow down."
He lost his elevation and flopped down onto the couch. "I can't slow down." He paused for a moment before he said, "She knows."
"Knows? That you're Superman?" Martha gasped. "Jonathan! Pick up the phone!"
Instantly, his father's voice came over the phone. "Lois knows?"
"Yes, she found out about me, but that isn't even the worst part."
"Found out? Clark, please tell me you told her about yourself before …" Martha trailed off, obviously hoping Clark would finish her sentence in his mind.
"How did she find out, son?" his father's crisp, but concerned voice demanded.
"I don't know. We woke up in bed together, and I wasn't wearing my glasses. She sort of figured it out. I know …"
"You slept with her before telling her about yourself? Clark!"
He closed his eyes and listened to his parents' shocked and disappointed voices. They were right. He was an idiot. That was only one of the many mistakes he had made last night. "I was so happy with the idea that she loved me. Clark. Not the man in spandex. I wanted to be with her as myself. Clark."
"Mom, she said she loved me, the man with glasses, weaknesses, flaws rather than Superman her idealized, perfect hero. And I wanted that so badly. I needed it. I guess I didn't even stop to consider any of the possible ramifications of my actions. I did tell her about myself, but I don't think she heard me."
"What do you mean, son?"
"Well, I told her as we were, uh, you know." He felt himself blushing. He needed to talk to someone about this, but his parents might not have been the right choice. Too bad they were his only choice.
"What?" Martha said angrily. "Clark! We raised you better than that!"
"I know, mom. Like I said, I'm not proud of what I did. This is all my fault."
"Clark, honey, what happened?" Martha said slowly, spacing her words out, trying to get him to calm down and talk to them rationally. "What did you do?"
"She said I raped her."
"You WHAT?" Martha exclaimed.
"Rape?" Jonathan said simultaneously.
Clark felt the tears finally spring to his eyes. "She said she didn't remember anything from last night. She thought she was drunk, and I took advantage of her."
"Oh my god," Martha exclaimed.
Clark continued, "I didn't even know what to say to her. I thought she had come to me because she had realized she loved me. Maybe I was so enthralled with the idea that she could love me, that I didn't even stop to consider any of the other possibilities for her abrupt personality change. I mean, I never even considered the fact that she might be drunk."
"You didn't *get* her drunk, did you, son?"
"Of course not, Dad. You know I would never …"
"We know, honey. We had to ask to be sure."
He nodded, but knowing they couldn't see him, he said, "I am such an idiot. Maybe I did rape her. But I have no idea how I could have. She came to my apartment last night and seduced me! How could that be rape?"
"She seduced you?"
"She seduced me."
"Yet she says you raped her?" Jonathan asked, trying to confirm his picture of the situation.
"She said she wasn't herself. And she can't remember anything that happened yesterday. I don't know what to do. I mean, I thought it was strange that she came over with dinner last night, especially after the fight we had yesterday morning. But as we ate dinner, she wore down my inhibitions. I really thought she was apologizing and telling me she loved me." He took a deep breath and said, "I thought she meant it."
"Oh, Clark. She didn't believe you?"
"Mom, she thinks I am an animal and a liar." He ran a frustrated hand through his hair. "And I couldn't really do anything to prove otherwise."
"She didn't believe you?"
"I don't know; think about what you would think if you were missing an entire day. You might leap to some wild conclusions," Martha supported Lois. "I'm not saying she's right, though, Clark."
"I know, Mom. It didn't help my case that I've been lying to her ever since we first met. What's to say I'm not lying to her now?"
"I don't know," she answered truthfully. "She didn't believe you at all?"
"Not at all. I told her everything, and she still thought I was lying. But why would she believe me?"
"Where is she now? Is she still there?" Jonathan asked.
"No, she left. I don't know where she went."
"You don't think …" Jonathan trailed off.
"I don't know," he said frantically. "She might. If she still thinks I raped her, she might go to the police and tell them about me."
"You really think she'll do that to you?" Martha jumped in, trying to be rational. "Would Lois do that to you?"
"Normally, I'd say no, but now I have no idea. I've been so wrong about everything. The only thing I'm sure of is that I hurt Lois. Profoundly. Even though I didn't know I was hurting her, I should have known better. I am such an animal."
"Clark!" Jonathan exclaimed.
"It's all my fault. Maybe I deserve anything she does."
"Clark! You don't deserve anything!" Jonathan exclaimed. "Are you telling us the truth?"
"She came to you; she seduced you?"
"Yes," he almost whispered.
"And you didn't provoke her?"
"Then you have nothing to worry about. You're innocent, Clark."
Martha added, "You didn't rape her. You're only guilty of bad judgment, not rape."
"Well, what should I do?"
"First you have to keep her from going to the police. You need to keep your secret safe."
"How should I try to stop her? She doesn't believe me."
"You said she thought she was drunk?" Martha asked.
"But did she act drunk, have any signs?"
"Of course not, dad. I would never have done anything with her if I thought she wasn't making her own decisions."
"Then investigate. See if you can find out what made her forget, whatever drug or drink it was, before she goes to the police."
"What if she already went to the police?"
"How long ago did she leave?" Jonathan asked.
"About half an hour ago."
Martha said, "And you haven't been arrested yet?" She paused for a second and said, "Turn on LNN! You have to see this!"
He reached for the remote, his heart pounding, wondering if it could possibly be the story of the year Clark Kent is Superman. With great trepidation, he turned on the TV. Suddenly the anchor's voice filled the room. "Valentine's Day comes early in some parts of Metropolis."
"Oh my god," Clark whispered as he saw a shot of the Daily Planet newsroom. It was decorated in red and white with hearts and flowers and little cupids.
"I'd suggest you start there, son," Jonathan deadpanned.
"I left work early yesterday," Clark said softly, not hearing what his father had said. "Lois must have been there. Something happened to the 'Planet'. I need to find out what it is! I wonder if Lois …" Then he realized he was still on the phone with his parents. "Mom, Dad, I'll call you tonight. Love you."
"Love you, too, Clark."
He hung up the phone hastily, and practically ran to the door, stopping only momentarily to pick up his copy of the 'Daily Planet' from the steps.
Cupids. Hearts. Love. A lead story by Ralph. Something weird was going on, and he was going to find out what it was.
And in the process, he was going to discover what had happened to Lois because it had to have happened at work. Something very strange was going on, and he had a feeling whatever had affected the 'Planet' had affected Lois, too.
Before he got all the way down the steps, a small piece of white paper caught his eyes. He bent down to pick it up and sighed. It was a receipt. For Chinese food.
Maybe this would prove to Lois that she had bought it like with a credit card number or something. Nope. She had paid with cash. Of course she had paid with cash. What else could go wrong?
But that was okay. The Chinese food didn't matter any more. It was all in the past. The most important thing for him to do now was find out exactly what had happened at the 'Planet' while he'd been away yesterday.
Then maybe Lois would believe him.
She had to believe him.
Lois stepped out of the elevator and gasped in shock as her eyes traveled around the newsroom. Amazing. Unreal. This couldn't be the newsroom. It couldn't. How many things could go wrong in one day?
The rest of the newsroom scene was even worse than she had imagined from what she had seen in the morning edition. She wasn't even sure what scared her most about the chaotic newsroom. Every one of her senses was assaulted by love.
Balloons. Hearts. Flowers. Love songs. Coworkers walking hand-in-hand. Smiling. Kissing. Hugging. Dancing. Pairs of colleagues going into the copy room together to do … Lois didn't even want to know. These people were not Lois's friends and coworkers. They were scary love mutants from the planet Kissyface working in the 'Love Shack'!
What could have happened here to change the newsroom, a respectable place of business, into such a tawdry shrine to all things love and sex? It looked like she was the one who had to figure out this whole mess.
Lois pushed through the balloons and skillfully avoided an amorous-looking Ralph on her way to her desk. She needed to sit down and think. This was all too much! How could this have happened? What or who could have done this to the newsroom? She wasn't even sure exactly where to start.
Maybe she had been affected in some way, too. That could probably explain how she had abandoned her every inhibition. Could it also explain why she couldn't remember what had happened most of yesterday?
She surveyed the newsroom, shocked. The scene unfolded before her, and she felt a sort of enlightenment. Everyone's inhibitions were lowered like hers had been last night. It was like they all were drunk on love. No wonder she'd had such a powerful hangover! Love was a more potent tonic than any liquor!
Lois put her head in her hands and sighed. The stupid love muzak was driving her crazy! This was not an atmosphere conducive to investigating. Yet these were the people she needed to question. Hopefully she would be able to get something coherent from at least one of them.
Suddenly, she felt a hand on her shoulder. She hadn't even heard anyone come up behind her. It looked like this was the first step in her investigation. She hadn't even had to seek anyone out.
"Lois! I've been looking for you all day!"
She turned around in her chair to face her young friend. "Jimmy?" Oh no! Was he going to declare his undying love for her? It seemed to be the trend around these parts lately. Why not?
"Lois!" he exclaimed, beaming ear-to-ear. "Guess what!"
She rolled her eyes, and decided to humor him. It was probably less painful than fighting. "What?"
"I'm in love." He shoved a picture into her hands. "April Stevens. She's my new girlfriend. Isn't she perfect?" Jimmy beamed at the beautiful woman in the picture and practically drooled all over Lois's hand.
Lois stared at the picture, unsure of what to say to Jimmy. She was shocked. This woman would go for Jimmy? Where would Jimmy have even met someone like this? "A model? Where did you …"
"We met yesterday."
"Yesterday?" Lois looked back at him, wanting to know more. What would Jimmy and a woman like that ever have in common?
"At the perfume show."
Lois stared at him skeptically. "The perfume show?"
Jimmy looked at her quizzically like she was crazy for not knowing. "You know, the one we had here yesterday."
"We had a perfume show here?" She felt like slapping Jimmy on the back of the head to see if that would spur any more intelligent answers.
"You don't remember? How can you not remember?" He put his hand over his heart and sighed dramatically. "It changed my life. It's where I met my April."
"But why? A perfume show in the 'Daily Planet' newsroom? It doesn't make sense." She shook her head in frustration.
Jimmy shrugged, staring at the picture Lois held in her hands. "I think marketing set it up," he said offhandedly.
"But why?" Before she let Jimmy reply, she said, "Never mind."
She pulled the picture closer, trying to remember this perfume show. It didn't matter why marketing had arranged this event; it had happened. And probably something during it had affected the newsroom. But what? Had they been introducing a new perfume? Had the employees gotten free samples?
The words 'perfume show' didn't really explain much. Or anything. Unfortunately, she didn't think Jimmy was in any condition to answer her questions.
"Beautiful, isn't she?" Jimmy grabbed the picture out of Lois's hands. "And she's all mine."
Lois put a hand on her young friend's. "Be careful."
"Why?" His eyes were filled with a wide-eyed innocence attributed either to the naivety of youth or the passion of lost inhibition.
"I don't want you to get hurt." She didn't want anything to happen to her friend especially nothing like what had happened to her. Whatever was going to happen, Lois was sure he would regret it in the morning.
"Hurt? How could I get hurt?" His voice was filled with the brashness of youth compounded with the arrogance of a man in love.
Lois shook her head, knowing she wouldn't be able to get through to him. She changed the subject. "Do you have any more of these pictures from yesterday?"
"Oh sure. I have a whole stack of them. You can have all of them except for the ones of my April." He sifted through the large stack of pictures in his hands.
Lois rolled her eyes, but said, "Of course."
In a few seconds, Jimmy handed her a large stack of photos, and had darted across the room before Lois could ask him anything else.
She wasn't sure where to start; she had so many unanswered questions. Why had marketing set up a perfume show in the newsroom? What kind of perfume could have done something like this to all of the people here? Had she been there? If she had, then why was she the only sane one in the asylum now?
She flipped through some of the photos, trying to create a picture of yesterday. One thing that she noted was that neither she nor Clark was in any of them. Interesting.
She picked up the phone, knowing she needed to talk to Clark, regardless of his reaction. She needed to apologize to him, but she wasn't sure how he could ever forgive her for her atrocious accusations.
Then she put the phone back down; she couldn't do it yet. She didn't see any logical way he could ever forgive her.
She picked up the phone up again; she had to try. If she didn't talk to him now, she would never be able to salvage their relationship. But how did she know it wasn't ruined already? A simple apology would never be enough to undo what she had done to him.
She placed the phone on the cradle a final time. Nothing could undo what she had done, what she had said. She couldn't call Clark, couldn't face him. And she wouldn't blame him if he never wanted to see her again. She had undoubtedly lost him as a partner and a friend. Any hope of a deeper relationship was completely gone when she had realized she might actually want one.
She closed her eyes momentarily, and prayed that when she opened them, this whole day would have been a horrible nightmare. When she woke up in her own bed, she would laugh at this whole situation, and learn the moral of the story: she had to treat Clark with the respect he deserved.
The thing was, she'd always respected him. She hadn't shown it correctly. At first it had been the fear of the new guy in the newsroom. She hadn't wanted him to stab her in the back like so many men had done before. Even after he had earned her trust, there was still that intense need to protect herself. Thus, she had shut him out in fear, even though he deserved her trust more than anyone else ever had.
It was all too absurd. A perfume show in the newsroom. Something that made the entire newsroom staff crazy in love. Forgetting an entire day of her life. Sleeping with her best friend. Waking up in Clark's bed. Accusing him of rape. Realizing she was really in love with him.
Was she a player in some horrible b-movie? Or maybe a soap opera? It was that crazy; it couldn't be real life. At least not her real life. This seemed like a carefully orchestrated plot to ruin her life.
When she opened her eyes and saw the chaos still surrounding her, she sighed deeply. No, it hadn't been a dream. It was her worst nightmare, and it still wasn't over.
She flipped through the stack of pictures again, trying to remember something, anything that might help her solve this mystery. Maybe someone's face would stand out and trigger her memories.
But she had been away at the PCD talking about fruit fly spraying. She sighed in frustration. She didn't remember any of these people. The only thing she remembered about that stupid interview was that it had been mind-numbingly boring. Well, that was a great start. This was such productive investigative journalism.
She closed her eyes again, and this time she saw …
Lois walked out of the City Works building and was assaulted by the bright blue sky. What a day to forget her sunglasses. She squinted in a futile attempt to try to block the sun's bright rays as she hurriedly made her way down the front steps.
That interview with Gale Jensen at the MPCD had been a huge waste of her time. She should have gone to the strike press conference with Clark. At least that would have been interesting if only for the fight with Clark that would have ensued.
She stomped down the street, sneering at everyone who dared smile at her. This was the worst day in her professional career, and no one seemed to give that its appropriate respect.
Stupid Pest Control. Seriously. If pets needed to be inside during the fruit fly spraying, was it really safe? Oh right, it was a precautionary measure. Huh. Right. All she wanted to do was get back to the newsroom, write up this horrible story, and go home to take a nice, long bubble bath.
Before she knew it, she had traversed the few blocks back to the 'Daily Planet' building. She stormed through the revolving front door and stomped to the elevator and rode up to the newsroom, planning to storm right into Perry White's office and give him a piece of her mind.
The doors opened into the newsroom, and she brushed by a group of people who were getting into the elevator.
She stormed towards Perry, who was standing in the middle of the newsroom with Jimmy at his side. Before she could say anything about the fruit flies, she was hit by the most god-awful nauseating smell. She wrinkled her nose in disgust. "What is that?"
"Oh Lois!" Perry exclaimed. "I think it's one of those new-fangled perfumes. Eau de Sweat Sock, I believe."
Jimmy turned his head and wrinkled his nose as well. "It smells like something died in here!"
"This is so gross! How can anyone get any work done here?"
Perry rolled his eyes and said, "Great shades of Elvis, Lois, is this another excuse not to get me that story?"
Lois turned on her heel and stomped away from her editor. "You'll have your article in twenty minutes."
Stupid article. Stupid fruit flies. Stupid Clark. Stupid dockworkers.
"Lois," Cat Grant's voice rang out over the newsroom's dull chatter. "Have you seen Clark lately?"
Who was she supposed to be, Clark's keeper? As if. What could Cat possibly want with Clark? Lois chose to ignore her. It was probably better that way.
Lois's her fingers pounded away at the keyboard, furiously trying to finish the fruit fly story so she could be done with it forever. Clark. The name resonated in her mind, rendering her unable to think about anything else. Suddenly, she was filed with the strangest feeling. It was an all-consuming love for her partner, her friend, and sometimes her worst enemy.
That perfect man. Clark. Tall, dark, and handsome. Her heart pounded with desire for her partner, her friend, her future lover. She wanted him. Needed him. Couldn't live without him.
Was this guilt over what she had done to him? He wasn't a horrible reporter. In fact, he was the best reporter here well, except her, of course.
Clark. Handsome, charming, wonderful. Clark. Smart. Sexy. Gorgeous, magnificent, stunning, dashing, awesome, spectacular, extraordinary, super, marvelous, incredible, fabulous, fantastic, amazing, terrific, sensational, sexy, desirable. Clark.
Wait. She'd thought sexy twice. Really? Sexy?
She sighed deeply. Yes, he was the sexiest man she knew. She couldn't deny it any more. Those large, brown eyes. That dark brown hair. Even those horribly unfashionable gaudy ties. His whole persona compounded to make him the single most desirable man in the newsroom and maybe the world.
Forget the fruit flies. She needed to see Clark.
It hadn't been rape at all. She had seduced him. She had wanted him. She had needed him. Yes, she had been drugged, but she had wanted him so badly. He had been her obsession.
After she had smelled that disgusting odor, she had been overcome with the most powerful feeling — a sensation telling every part of her body that she wanted Clark and no one else. Nothing had been holding her back. No memories to make her hesitate. She had known exactly what she had wanted and had gone for it full- force.
That smell had to be the drug. But what was it? Who made it? Why did they do it? What were they trying to gain?
She needed Clark — the only other sane person in the midst of the love haven. But would he want to work with her?
She wasn't sure how to face him after everything she had said and done to him. Even if he was the most forgiving man in the world, Lois wasn't sure if he would ever accept her apology completely. She had said some very scathing things to him in the heat of the moment, and she wasn't sure how to begin to take them back. He probably would never accept her friendship and certainly would never return her love. And she wouldn't blame him one bit. It wasn't like she could fix this with flowers or candy or a kiss. Not even a cheesy, sappy Hallmark card could do the trick. She seriously doubted they made anything that said, 'I love you. Sorry I accused you of raping me and told you I would never consider sleeping with you, you horrible liar!' Too bad. She could really use one of those handy little cards.
The elevator bell dinged, and Lois turned her head to watch the doors slide open. Could it be? Did she have that kind of cosmic karma that as soon as she decided she wanted to apologize to Clark, he magically appeared in the newsroom?
Fate was playing a dirty trick on her. Again.
She needed more time! A couple of hours? One hour? Thirty minutes? Fifteen minutes? Heck, she'd even settle for five minutes! She still had to psych herself up to face him again, to admit her true feelings, and to bare her soul to him.
And, most importantly, to face the prospect of rejection — the thing that scared her the most.
She would survive in her professional life, and she would still be the good reporter she was before she'd met Clark. But she would no longer be the great reporter he had helped her become. They complimented each other in so many ways.
It was her personal life she was more worried about. Sure, she would live, but it would be a boring, bitter, and lonely existence. She needed her best friend, the only man she could bare her soul to. He was an integral part of her existence.
If their friendship didn't survive, she was the one who was to blame. She really might have blown any chance of salvaging their friendship. Plus she was no sure that they would never be able to try to have any kind of romantic relationship.
Shoot. Just when she realized that she might actually want one.
All the air left her chest as she watched the tall, dark, muscular, bespectacled form of her partner step from the elevator into the newsroom.
Clark froze when their eyes met. He looked trapped. It looked like he wanted to bolt back into the elevator or escape to the air as Superman, but something was holding him back.
"Clark," Lois whispered, knowing he could hear her. He looked so sad almost like a shattered figment of the man she had known.
She wiped away a trail of tears from her cheeks. For what seemed like the millionth time today, she found herself hoping that this day was really a nightmare and that she would wake up and this would all be a figment of her imagination. When she woke up, she would treat Clark so much better. That was her promise. It was like Dickens' Ebenezer Scrooge's revelation about the miracle of Christmas. She would promise to forever love Clark Kent if all of this could be a horrible nightmare.
No such luck. She had to face Clark right here, right now, with no promise of a happily ever after.
Clark looked horrible, but what had she expected? It wasn't like he was going to be dancing the jig because his best friend had accused him of rape and had practically told him that she would have never slept with him even if he was the last man on earth. How had she expected him to look? Happy? Unaffected? Of course not.
"Clark." She got up from her chair and crossed the newsroom, her heart pounding. "I'm so sorry," she whispered, knowing he could hear her even from across the crowded room. It was so insufficient, but it was all she could say.
Clark took a step back towards the elevator. He hadn't exactly expected to see her here. Stupid. He should have scanned the newsroom before he got into the elevator. Wasn't that what superpowers were supposed to be for? Part of him almost wanted to face her. Again, it was the masochist in him.
She was calling him, walking towards him. Talking to her was the last thing he wanted to do, yet there was no avoiding it.
"I'm sorry," she repeated.
She had cornered him. Clark took a deep breath and took a step closer to her. He had to face her sooner or later. Now she was sorry. For what? For breaking his heart?
She'd called him a liar, a hypocrite, and a rapist. He wasn't sure how he could look her in the eye. Yet he was.
And here she was, standing in front of him, looking as scared as he felt. She was missing her usual swagger, that Lois Lane air. Clark stared at her, frozen in place. "Lois," he whispered, for lack of anything else to say.
"What?" he breathed.
"Everything, Clark. I remember everything." She put her hand on his arm, and cringed when he flinched. "Oh god, I am so sorry." She felt her warm tears falling down her cheeks.
"Everything?" His voice was guarded, almost emotionless. He didn't want to give her the upper hand for any reason. What if this was some kind of ploy? What if she turned his every word, and his every action against him?
"Everything. Oh, Clark, it all came back to me so suddenly." She paused to look at him. It seemed like he was staring into space, ignoring everything she said. Maybe there really was no way of winning his forgiveness, much less his heart.
"Everything," he murmured.
She reached out and grabbed his arm to get his attention. "We have to talk."
"Conference room?" he said softly. He could barely look at her, but he knew he couldn't ignore her forever. They still had to work together. Unless he ran off to some remote place maybe the North Pole never to be seen again.
She nodded, and gently tugged him towards the conference room. She knew exactly what she wanted to say, but had no idea if he would listen to her or believe her. "Oh, Clark, I can't believe what I did to you."
"Lois," he said softly. He took a seat at the table, and avoided her gaze.
Lois perched on the table in front of him and reached out to touch his arm, but he flinched and drew away from her. "Clark, I don't know what I can say to make this better."
"I don't know either." He ran a nervous hand through his hair. "I don't know if it can ever be better. Maybe this is where we have to stay."
Lois stood up and began to pace around the room. She was filled with a nervous energy that made her want to run for miles and miles and never turn back. Taking to Clark had never been hard. It had always been like second nature. Now, it was her call whether their friendship would survive or flounder. "I don't know where to start." She took a deep breath, and let her emotions flow. "When I met you, Clark, I also met this other person. He was the first man I'd met in such a long time who I *trusted*. He was so different from every man I've ever known. He was perfect."
"Superman," he said softly.
"Exactly. But I also met Clark, this sweet guy who challenged me in so many ways. I don't know how it happened, but I let you into my heart; I let you see my deepest feelings. Clark, I haven't let anyone in that far, well, ever."
"Clark, I fell in love with Superman because he was unattainable. He was … you were sort of unreal — a fantasy. Someone I could love from afar. But you, Clark, were sort of scary. You were real. You could hurt me. But I found myself falling for you anyway."
"I guess I did sort of flirt with you, and maybe I led you on. But, Lois, you have to believe me, I was in love with you, but you ignored me. I wanted to be with you any way I could."
How did the subject change so quickly? She'd never even told him he flirted with her. "What?"
"Wait. What are we talking about?"
Lois grinned sheepishly. "I have no idea."
"Lois, look, I am so sorry. I know I should have told you about myself first, but I wanted to spend one day as Clark, and only Clark, without having to worry about Superman. I wanted to be normal for once in my life. I wanted to experience everything without Superman. I don't know if I can ever really explain it."
"Lois, when you told me you loved me, Clark, the guy with glasses, the guy with major faults, I was so happy. I guess my elation overrode my good sense. But I was going to tell you, believe me." He looked at her pleadingly, hoping she would listen to him.
She took a deep breath and said, "I know, Clark. I know. I believe you. I know you planned to tell me eventually. I understand, really."
"Do you, Lois? Do you have any idea how hard it was for me not to tell you?" He sighed deeply.
He nodded. "Absolutely. How could I not tell you? I couldn't go on living two lives around you; I wanted to be myself."
"And I didn't let you tell me." She shook her head and sank down into one of the chairs across from him.
"You kind of figured it out by yourself." He grinned sheepishly, wanting to lighten the mood, but knowing he could never succeed.
Lois put her hand on his knee, and tried to explain herself. "Oh, Clark, I was so surprised, so humiliated."
"I never meant to …"
"Look at it from my perspective. I had held my emotions hostage for so long. How did you expect me to feel? I know I wasn't right. I woke up in your bed having no memory of an entire day of my life. And to make it worse, I found out that you were two people … two people I had known and loved." She shook her head woefully.
"Loved?" She had loved him. Both parts of him.
She smiled. "Of course loved. But when I saw the two of you as one, I felt so used. I had trusted both you and Superman, and I found out that you had lied to me since the moment I met you. That hurt, Clark. Really hurt." She brushed her tears off her cheeks. "I hadn't felt so betrayed since, since …" She couldn't even say the name. "Since … Claude," she said the name almost under her breath. Now was not the time to bring up her past mistakes. "But this was so much worse."
"Oh god, Lois. I am so sorry."
"It's okay, Clark. I understand. Really. I know I seduced you. I know I did. I remember everything." She squeezed his knee, and looked into his eyes, hoping he had heard every word she had said.
"I couldn't resist." He closed his eyes so he wouldn't have to look at her. It was so humiliating. He was Superman. That should have given him so much more willpower.
"You couldn't resist," she repeated. "*I* couldn't resist."
"How could I resist, Lois? How could *any* man resist? The woman of my dreams was throwing herself at me of course I thought it was weird given everything that had happened yesterday morning, but what can I say, you were quite convincing. I really believed you wanted me." He opened his eyes, and looked at her, wondering what she would do.
"Can, can we ever get back to normal?" Lois stared at him, and then shook her head. "Guess not. That would be asking too much." She had blown it.
Clark closed his eyes and said, "I don't even know what normal is any more. We both said and did some things we regret."
"I know," she said softly. "But we can make the most of the future," she whispered hopefully.
"I should have told you I was Superman. I was wrong." He leaned back in his chair. "I shouldn't have led you on as Superman; I guess I am a liar and a horrible person." His voice didn't waver. It was completely devoid of all emotion. "Maybe I'm a rapist, too."
"You're not a rapist," she declared.
"But you said I was." He took a deep breath.
Lois wiped the tears from her cheeks. "I'm sorry, Clark. I can't believe what I did to you." She had changed him. "I was scared. So scared. I don't know what came over me. It was like I lost control of my own voice. I lost control."
"I love you Lois; really, I do, but that doesn't mean I have to like you right now." His eyes narrowed in anger, finally showing emotion. "I don't know how to deal with this. The things you said … The way I felt … You hurt me, Lois. I don't know if there ever can be a normal again. I can forgive you, but I don't know if I can ever forget."
Tears streamed down her face, and she made no effort to wipe them away. "I was scared, Clark. I woke up in a strange room not remembering anything for an entire day. Then I discovered I was naked. What kind of conclusion did you expect me to come to?"
"I expected you to know me better than that. I would NEVER do anything like that. Lois, you accused me of being a rapist!" He rubbed his eyes. Now was not the time to show Lois any of the pain and hurt she had caused. It would give her the advantage.
"I didn't mean it," she pleaded.
"Could've fooled me," he muttered almost under his breath, but loud enough for Lois to hear him.
"Okay, maybe I did mean it at the time. I was afraid, not to mention shocked." She sat on the table again and got as close to him as she dared. She ached to reach out and touch him, to comfort him, and to show him how wrong she had been.
"You told me you'd never … never make love to me. At least not by choice." He turned away from her. "You said, if I was the last man on earth, you still wouldn't have slept with me. At least not voluntarily." He took a deep breath before he completely poured out his soul.
"I'm so sorry, Clark." That wasn't enough. "I didn't mean it. I was scared." Still not enough. "I really didn't think you were capable of rape or any other horrible crime." She shook her head woefully, and pulled at a loose thread in her skirt's hem. "I didn't mean it. You know I have this habit of saying the first thing that comes to my mind, no matter what it is. Sometimes I lose the stop between my brain and my mouth and things come out. And I hurt you this time. It will be with me for the rest of my life."
"You sure sounded like you meant it." He stared into her eyes hoping to see a clue that he was wrong.
She reluctantly admitted, "Maybe at the time I did. Everything was happening so quickly. When I got home, I remembered it all. I remembered wanting you so badly it hurt. I remembered making love to you. I remembered wanting nothing more than to show you how much I love you."
She reached out and put her hands on his shoulders. Initially, he flinched, but he allowed her to stay there.
"No, let me say this. I love you, Clark. I know you probably don't love me and I don't blame you after what I did to you."
"You hurt me," he said simply, his voice full of hurt.
"I know. I am so sorry. I don't know what else I can say." It sounded so trite, but Lois couldn't say anything else.
"The word 'sorry' isn't going to magically erase the scars on my soul."
"Clark, I wanted you. I seduced you. It wasn't rape. I was so wrong."
She could never end a sentence that way. There always had to be a, "But …"
"… but I was so horrible to you, and you might never be able to forgive me. And I understand, really, I do. But please listen to me."
Clark nodded. He would take the high road and do what she hadn't done for him. He was going to listen to her.
"God, Clark, when I remembered, it came back to me so suddenly. Maybe it was some kind of after-effect of the drug. I can't believe that one little trigger brought all of my memories back in droves. I couldn't believe how vivid the memories were. You made me feel incredible loved, wanted, needed. I've never felt that way before. We made love, Clark, and you were the first man who ever …"
He tried to help her along, "Ever?"
"Put my needs before theirs." She looked at him with tears in her eyes, and said, "I'd never … I've never … No one has ever …"
Lois took a deep breath, and said, "You're the first man who has ever … put my needs first. Clark, you were so tender, so loving … I've never felt that way before."
He was speechless.
"I have trouble admitting my feelings to anyone. Including myself. And I know I've hurt you, Clark. So I don't expect you to …"
"Your feelings? What feelings?"
"Weren't you listening to anything I said? I love you, Clark. I always have. I tried so hard to deny my feelings that I became hostile in the process."
He turned his head up to look at her. He was shocked. She seemed to be telling the truth. About everything. "You really love me?"
"Oh god, Clark, I do." She shuddered and another flood of tears fell down her cheeks. "But I understand if you don't love me. I don't know if I can ever really expect you to trust me again or even want to be near me."
He brought one of her hands up to his lips and softly brushed his lips against it. "Lois, how can I *not* be near you?"
"I love you, too, Lois." He took one of her hands and brought it up to his lips. "I'll love you forever. No matter how much I'm hurt or how hard I try, I can't stop loving you. There will always be a part of my heart reserved only for you. My love is everlasting."
"Oh, Clark." He loved her, too. He loved her still. He loved her despite everything she had done to him.
"My heart might be bruised, but it can never be completely broken." He took a deep breath and met her eyes. "I am Superman you know. It'll heal. Eventually." He looked up at her and winked.
"Eventually," she whispered.
He smiled at her slightly, "Maybe even at Superspeed."
She laughed, not sure if it was the right thing to do under all this tension. But it seemed so right, and so necessary.
"If I only know one thing, Lois, it's that I will always love you. No matter what." He flashed her a crooked smile, hoping to lighten the mood slightly. "I'm cursed to love you, no matter what you do to me. Even if I don't have to like you all the time." He laughed slightly.
"I am a curse," she said softly.
"You are not a curse, Lois. You could never be a curse. I love you," he answered. He tentatively reached up and brushed the tears from her cheeks. "I love you, Lois, and my feelings are so strong; they overpower me." He smiled slightly. "And I am the most powerful man in the world."
"I love you, too, Clark." She put her hand over his. "I can't believe I didn't know from the beginning that you are the man I'm destined to be with. Forever. I don't know why I never …"
"Oh, Lois," he breathed. He leaned in towards her, wondering if he should try to kiss her. Her lips were calling him, urging him to inch closer and closer. Now that he knew she loved him, too, it was like a large weight had been lifted from his chest. He was free to show her how much he loved her. And he would do that with a simple kiss.
His heart was still hurting from her accusations, but it was beginning to heal. He knew this conversation wasn't an absolute cure-all, but it certainly was an affective band-aid. Right now, all he wanted to do was forget everything that had happened. He needed a few minutes where he could forget everything, and simply be a man in love. They could deal with everything else later. Right now, he wanted no, needed to kiss her if for no other reason than to help mend his broken ego.
"I love you, Clark," she said softly as she inched ever closer to him.
"I love you, too."
With Clark's simple words, she felt completely, thoroughly, unconditionally loved. She reached her arms around his neck, and reveled in the feel of his warm skin against hers. This was something she'd never imagined she'd be able to do again. Not after what she had done to him. She arched head up towards his, and the magnetic force between their lips took over. She closed her lips over his, and she allowed her instincts to take over. For the first time in her life, she completely surrendered herself to the moment, and let her feelings control her actions. She surrendered to her all-consuming love.
They could never turn back. They were so far beyond the point of no return. He had been so right. They would never be able to go back to their previous status quo again. Now that they had confessed their love for each other, they would never be able to go back to being friends or partners again.
He tightened his grip around her back and pulled her close. This was something he'd never thought he would experience again. After what had happened … NO! He couldn't think about what had happened. It was settled. She was sorry, and he even sort of understood why she had done what she had. Now it was time to focus on the important things in life. And right now, that included kissing the woman he loved and, more importantly, loved him, too.
Clark felt a strange dampness against his cheek, and pulled away from the kiss. "Are you crying, Lois?"
Lois sniffled, and looked up into his eyes, tears streaming down her cheeks. "I can't believe how lucky I am. I never thought I'd ever be able to kiss you again."
He took a deep breath. "I know." He stroked her soft, silky hair. "Believe me, I know. But, Lois, we're here. We're together. And it's amazing."
She averted his eyes from his, and rested her head on his shoulder. "I don't deserve you."
"Don't say that," he said sharply. "We love each other." He pecked her cheek to punctuate each word. "We more than deserve each other. We were meant for each other."
And he was right. They were meant for each other. They had each been hurt so often in their lives, loath to trust anyone with their true feelings, until they had met each other. Yet they had both so nearly destroyed that trust.
"Meant for each other," she repeated. The words felt so good to say. Before she had met Clark, she had never known what love was, and she had never expected to feel this way. He had made her a new woman, as she had made him a new man.
"I love you," he said, before his lips captured hers again. Their mouths danced together in an erotic tango, each craving closer contact and a greater intimacy.
"Hey, Lois, CK!"
They quickly broke their kiss and turned around. Jimmy. Neither had heard him come into the room. Why wasn't he out searching for his model girlfriend like he said he was going to do?
"What's up, Jimmy?" Lois said, in a slightly irritated tone. Why did he have to interrupt them at a moment like this?
Jimmy didn't notice, though, and came up to the table stopping next to Clark and clapping his hand on the older man's shoulder.
"I think CK is up after that kiss, huh?" Jimmy grinned at Clark conspiratorially.
Clark's cheeks flushed a deep crimson. "Uh …"
Lois's jaw dropped in shock. Obviously, Jimmy's inhibitions had been lowered to a point where he was willing to say anything he was thinking. Was this how she had been last night?
She couldn't help but laugh at the expression on her partner's face in part because Jimmy had been right on the mark regardless of if he had been out of line or not.
"What do you want, Jimmy?" Lois asked, trying to save Clark any further embarrassment.
Clark flashed a grateful look at her for saving him from a tactless Jimmy. Yes, he had been aroused by the kiss, and Lois had known it. That didn't mean he wanted the world to know.
"April," Jimmy moaned. "You have a picture of my April."
"What?" Clark asked, confused.
"The model he's in love with," Lois whispered, to update Clark on the situation.
"My April, my goddess, the love of my life," Jimmy answered at the same time. "I wrote her phone number on the back of one of the pictures, and you have it!" A flash of anger crossed his face. "You stole it!"
"April," Clark repeated.
Lois looked at Clark and shrugged. "The pictures are on my desk, Jimmy." She talked to him like he was a child who couldn't understand simple English. "Do you want to look for the one with April's number?"
"Yes," he moaned pathetically. "I need my April."
"Come on. Let's find your April." She put a hand on Clark's shoulder, and gently squeezed it before saying, "Come on, partner."
"Partner," he repeated.
Jimmy practically dragged Lois through the newsroom to her desk, but Clark hung back for a second and looked around the newsroom.
People were still hustling and bustling around, but not in the way anyone was used to. Instead of reporters rushing around to make meetings with sources and to finish stories before their deadlines, now the reporters were running around, trying to find love. The familiar had become completely foreign.
The sound of Jimmy yelling broke Clark away from his thoughts. "You'd better have my April, Lois! Or else … Or else … I'll do something really bad!"
Whoops. The rabidly love-struck Jimmy seemed like he was going to tear Lois's arm off to get the picture. It was probably a job for Superman.
He crossed the newsroom and made his way over to Lois's desk where Lois and Jimmy were crouched down, flipping through a large stack of pictures.
"I'm sure I do, Jimmy. I'm sure I do," Lois said in an agitated voice, flipping through the pictures quickly.
"Find her!" Jimmy exclaimed dramatically. "I don't know what I'll do without her."
"Okay, okay! I'm looking."
Clark decided to jump into the conversation. "Which picture are you looking for, Jimmy?"
"The one where she's with the stinky perfume lady."
"The stinky perfume lady?" Lois asked quickly. Stinky perfume. Eau de Sweat Sock.
"Clark! We have to find that picture!" Lois exclaimed. "That's who we're looking for!"
"April? What do you want with April? She's MINE!"
Lois put her hand on her friend's arm, trying to stop his erratic, almost spastic movements. "Of course she's yours, Jimmy. We want the stinky perfume lady."
"Perfume?" Clark asked. "Why perfume?"
"Don't you remember the perfume show?" Jimmy asked in complete exasperation. "Why doesn't anyone remember it? Now where is my April!"
"We're looking, Jimmy. There are a lot of pictures here. We'll find her."
"Perfume show?" Clark asked again.
"I'll get you caught up in a minute, Clark." She whispered, "When we get rid of Jimmy."
Lois flipped through three more pictures.
"STINKY PERFUME LADY!" Jimmy exclaimed.
Lois looked down at the picture. It was a pretty blond woman, a few years older than Lois, with a slightly exotic look holding a perfume atomizer.
"Do you remember her name, Jimmy, or what she sprayed?"
Jimmy shrugged. "It was something with an M. Mary? Margaret? Melanie? Melissa? Miriam? Miranda? Marjorie?"
"Do you know if they had a list of who was at the show yesterday?" She made a note to look for a woman with an M-name although she wasn't sure she trusted Jimmy's memory at this point.
"No idea. She sprayed something called 'Smelly Sweaty Socks' or something like that."
Clark wrinkled his nose in disgust. "Smelly sweaty socks?"
"Makes you want to run out and buy it, huh?" Lois said. She took a step back towards Clark.
"Where's April! I'll get my revenge if I don't get her number back. Do you have any idea … ?"
Lois cut him off by shoving a picture into his hand. "Is this it, Jimmy?" She pointed to the scrawled numbers on the back of the photo.
"April!" he exclaimed. "Thank you. Thank you. Thank you! You two are my heroes!" Not waiting for their response, he took off across the room.
Clark watched Jimmy scamper away like a happy little bunny, then he turned to Lois, and said, "What's going on here? Perfume? Smelly socks?"
"When we were away from the newsroom yesterday, apparently marketing had set up a fashion/perfume expo here."
"Here? Why? Did Perry know?"
"I have no idea. Maybe that's not the important thing right now. I'm not sure why they had it here, but they did."
"Okay," he said slowly. "But smelly socks?"
She shrugged. "I don't know. I missed the whole thing. All I know is I came back to the newsroom after my interview to write up my story, and there was this horrible smell."
"Smelly sweaty socks."
"Exactly. It was disgusting. And I really think that's the key."
"The key to what's making everyone here crazy in love?" He didn't add anything about it affecting Lois.
"Right. And I think everyone was sprayed directly. Maybe that's why they are all still affected, and mine wore off so quickly."
"You didn't get it directly," Clark finished. "What makes you think it was the stinky perfume?"
"Right after I noticed the smell, that was when everything started to get fuzzy. I remember hearing your name, and realizing that I wanted nothing else in the world than to have you. I was obsessed."
Clark took a deep breath. "Lois," he said softly. "About last night …"
"What about last night?"
He took a deep breath before he said, "Maybe we should focus on work right now."
"You want to go back to being colleagues?" She felt a pit forming in her stomach. It had all been too good to be true.
"Colleagues who are in love. For now. There's still so much we need to iron out before we can be completely together."
"Why does everything have to be so complicated?" She flipped through the pictures and pulled out the ones with the 'Stinky Perfume Lady' and put them into their own pile.
"Life is complicated," Clark answered. "My life has never been easy." It could never be as easy as save the lives, solve the mystery, get the girl. But his life was beginning to regain the bedlam and frenzy he knew so well. What a welcome chaos it was
"Mine either," she admitted. "Mine either." She reached out to squeeze Clark's hand, and said, "Colleagues it is. For now. But you have to remember that I love you."
He let a small grin spread across his face. "And I love you, too. Come on; let's get to the bottom of this."
"Okay." She held out the photos to him. "Here are five pictures of this woman."
Clark grabbed the pictures, and flipped through them. "We don't know her name, except that it might begin with an M?"
"Exactly. And that she was here yesterday with a perfume that stunk. And after I smelled it, I lost all inhibition." She motioned around the room. "And, apparently, so did everyone else."
He looked around the room. "And they're still affected. And you're not."
"I know. I have no idea how long this stuff lasts. Especially if they got a full dose."
"Right." He ran a hand through his hair. "And we're assuming the reason you're okay now when everyone else is still high on love is that you weren't directly sprayed?" Oh she was so cute when she got into her investigative mode. He wanted to give her a little kiss on the cheek.
"Exactly. Either that or it had already diluted in the air by the time I got here, and I only got a partial dose of whatever it was." Oh he was so cute the way he was looking at her like she was the only woman in the world, the way he gazed at her so intently, so lovingly. This 'only partners' thing wasn't going to work. All she wanted to do was kiss him a little kiss on the top of the head.
His hand trailed in a circle around the newsroom, and again said, "I wonder when this stuff will wear off." He took a deep breath, and voiced his biggest fear. "Or *if* it will wear off."
"Who knows?" She shrugged and followed his gaze. Still no sign of the newsroom getting back to normal any time soon. Cat darted into the copy room with a short, balding man Lois didn't know. Perry was chasing after the janitor, Rahelia, singing 'I'm Too Sexy'. Jimmy was running around, holding his picture of April, and kissing it repeatedly.
It was pure insanity. Perry wasn't even singing an Elvis song!
"Do you think *anyone* remembers her name?" Clark sighed in frustration. "Would marketing have a list of registered presenters?"
Lois shrugged. "What if she wasn't even registered? What if she snuck in? If you were going to poison everyone with a perfume, would you sign in? She probably wasn't even invited."
"Guess not." He stood up, and said, "I'm going to see if they have a list anyway."
She put a hand on his arm. "Wait, Clark, look. She's holding two perfume bottles. You can, you know." She made a motion like she was taking off her glasses. "With your, uh, vision gizmo."
"Vision gizmo?" Even though he wanted to be indignant, he found himself chuckling. Maybe without directly saying it, she had come to terms with the fact that he was Superman, and she was already thinking about using it to her advantage.
"Well, yeah, that's what it is, isn't it? What would you call it?" she challenged.
"I, uh, actually, I don't know. I thought it would be something cooler than 'vision gizmo'." He shrugged. "Vision gizmo works, I guess. I mean, that's what it is."
She handed him the pictures, and said, "Do you see the one in her right hand with the label?"
He pulled his glasses down, and focused on the tiny writing on the bottle. "I see it," he said, zooming in once, twice, three times, four times. "Got it!"
"What! What is it?"
"Miranda's?" Lois grinned at Jimmy across the room. "He was right. An M-name."
A smile formed on Clark's lips. "Jungle Passion."
"What?" Lois looked at him skeptically.
He looked up from the picture and smiled at her surprised reaction. "The perfume in her right hand is called 'Jungle Passion'."
She shook her head. "Jungle Passion? I wonder if that's what she sprayed here."
"I think Jimmy said she sprayed the other one. But who knows?" He looked at the picture again. "The other one is in a really weird bottle without any markings."
"Figures," she said. Then she looked around the room again. "I mean, everyone is acting like they live in the jungle, and they are all very passionate. Maybe it was the Jungle Passion."
"Who knows," he said.
"With that name, it must be some kind of aphrodisiac." She looked around the room and her eyes fell on Ralph, who was chasing a young woman from research all around the room. The poor girl was running after Ron from Sports. "And what an aphrodisiac!"
"Do you think it's sold commercially? Why would they sell it commercially if it causes this kind of reaction!" He shook his head, and zoomed in on the picture again trying to find more clues. "It would never get FDA approval."
"But does it need FDA approval? It's a perfume."
Clark looked up and smiled. "I'm really not sure. Is there even any kind of agency that regulates perfume?"
"I don't know." Lois shrugged. "I'd assume the FDA."
"Should we look into the FDA?"
"That might take too long." Lois wanted to scream. "We need Jimmy!"
"Is everyone from research affected?"
"I guess so," Lois said as she watched Kara from research chasing after a fellow researcher, Joe. "Maybe we should work on this Miranda first before we look into the FDA."
Clark nodded. "It looks like the Jungle perfume is definitely sold commercially. The bottle looks like it's mass-produced. I wonder if anyone actually buys this!"
Lois shrugged. "Who knows? There's got to be a market for it somewhere."
"I mean, there's bound to be a market for people who want to be swinging from the chandeliers and having wild jungle orgies."
"True, I guess." He focused on the picture again. "Look at her. She had to have planned this. But why? What did anyone here do to her?"
"Who knows? Maybe she had a bad affair with Ralph or someone. Maybe she wants to get on the news."
"Like some kind of publicity stunt?"
"Who knows? We have to find this Miranda." Lois grabbed the White Pages out of the bottom drawer. "She's selling a drug."
"I know," he said softly.
Lois opened the phone book and started flipping through the pages.
Clark said, "Could it really be that easy? Do you think she's in the phone book?"
Lois shrugged. "If she runs a legitimate store, why wouldn't she be in the phone book?"
"Good point." He stood up and leaned over her shoulder, scanning the book with her.
She felt his hand graze her shoulder, and she shivered involuntarily. If only he would touch her. But there was still that tension there. Maybe the tension would be there for quite a long time.
"Miranda's." She flipped through the pages quickly, muttering, "J, K, L, M, Ma, Me, Mi. Here!" She pointed to the entry.
"Miranda's Perfume Shop," he read. "Interesting name."
"What else would it be called?" It almost seemed too easy. Way too easy. Like Orem's Razor told them, sometimes the simplest solution was the correct solution.
Clark looked at his partner's expression and laughed deeply. "At this point, I really have no idea."
"You kind of thought the store would be called Miranda's Illegal Jungle Love Shack, right?"
"Well …" he let his voice trail off. "No comment." It wasn't exactly what he had been thinking, but she was close.
Lois reached out and placed her hands on Clark's arms. She tilted her head up, and their eyes met.
They had been kidding themselves. Their love couldn't reside in the back recesses of their minds. It was so powerful, so all- encompassing, it needed to escape and be freely expressed.
They couldn't be colleagues, not even colleagues in love. Yes, they were colleagues. Yes, they were in love. But they needed to be able to express both parts of their relationship freely or else they would go insane.
Lois stood up, and wrapped her arms around Clark's neck.
He wrapped his arms around her back, and pulled her close before he lowered his head and captured her lips against his.
She moaned softly when their lips met, and they both surrendered completely to the luxurious friction of their lips rubbing against each other. All their pent up emotions flowed into the kiss, everything coming to a passionate head in their simple kiss. Pure beauty and absolute magic.
They reluctantly broke apart, and Lois leaned in for another quick peck on the lips.
"I love you, Lois," Clark admitted. He leaned in to kiss her again. "I love you so much."
With their mouths inches apart, Lois's heart pounded with anticipation of what was to come. It was as if the mood of the newsroom was rubbing off on both of them. Love was in the air. Literally.
"We should …" She leaned in for another kiss. "Stop …" She touched her lips to his again, obviously not believing nor wanting to believe her own words.
"Stop?" he prodded. He knew exactly what she was trying to say, but that didn't mean he had to listen. "Stop doing this?" he breathed before he leaned in to kiss her again.
"Mmm-hmm," she said softly.
He pulled away slightly, but held her tightly in his arms. "Mmm- hmm," he repeated.
She looked into his eyes, and said, "We have to find this Miranda."
She placed a soft kiss on his lips. "I know."
He ran a hand through her hair, and kissed the top of her head. "Right. I know we do."
"Come on," she said, tugging on his hand. "We need to figure out what we're going to do."
"I think we need to get out of here," he said. "There's something in the air." His hand drifted around his head.
"It couldn't still be the perfume."
He wrinkled his nose. "I don't smell anything. It must be the whole atmosphere rubbing off."
"Rahelia!" a loud, booming voice with a heavy southern accent exclaimed.
"But I love you, my goddess."
He was chasing the cleaning lady.
"You're right. We have to get out of here." She grabbed the pictures from the desk and the sheet she used to write down the address and stood up.
"Should we do anything? I mean, he always says Alice has spies."
Lois shrugged. "I guess they have a lot to report today."
He laughed slightly. "I have no idea what we can do."
She shrugged again. "I think it's futile to try anything. We really should get out of here."
"We have to get to the bottom of this … fast, before anyone else gets hurt."
Before they left to investigate, they shared one final look, and both realized that they were more than friends, more than colleagues. They loved each other. And their love would survive whatever obstacles were to come.
"Love, love, love, love," Lois said as she flipped through the various ads they had found for Miranda's perfume shop. "You don't think she's obsessed or anything?"
Clark looked over her shoulder and shrugged. "Well, maybe she caters to people in love."
"And out of love," she said, holding out one of the ads.
"Wow." He shook his head. "Ultimate passion, painful rejection, and sweet revenge."
"Well, we know she's crazy," Lois said. "But what else do we know?"
He wrapped his hand around her shoulder, and said, "We know she's a criminal."
"We don't even know her last name." They had tried to search for anything they could about Miranda's Perfume Shop, but they had come up virtually empty except for a few small magazine ads.
He shrugged. "I guess we'll just have to wing it."
She smiled up at him. "Well, at least it's a store. We can pretend to be shopping."
"Exactly." He grinned and pulled her close. "We can be a young couple in love, searching for a perfume that will enrich our love life."
Lois leaned back and smiled. "And what better way to do what than with a new perfume?"
"Could we just go in there and ask for her special love perfume?"
She shrugged. "What? Like, 'Hi, Miranda. We know what you did last night. We want to see the perfume with the illegal love drug and then arrest you."
He rolled his eyes, and changed the subject slightly. "Well, at least she won't recognize us since we weren't at work yesterday."
"What's the address?" Clark asked. His hand casually trailed softly down her arm. He knew they were getting close with all the small specialty boutiques lining the streets.
They were going to have to wing it.
"15 River Rd," she announced. They were getting close. River Rd. was a small street, almost like an alley, with lots of tiny specialty stores and trendy, expensive restaurants. Perfect for a specialty perfume store.
"It's on this street," Clark said quickly. He pointed to the left. "Look at all the little boutiques and cafes."
Lois nodded. "A shady perfume store fits right in."
"Or maybe it's totally legitimate." He shrugged. "And she makes the drug on the side."
"Yeah right. A legitimate store with an illegal lab in the back?"
Clark shrugged again. "It's happened before. A lot."
Lois shook her head, knowing he was right. "If you say so."
He reached out and grabbed her hand. They each felt a small jolt of electricity pass between them when their skin came in contact.
Lois turned her head up, and smiled at him. It was a meaningful gesture, even without words. A gesture of peace and love. She wasn't sure how she had lived for so long without the soft, loving contact between them.
Together, they were stronger than they ever were apart. Once the hottest team in town, Lane and Kent were now positively sizzling. Now they both knew it would soon get a whole lot hotter.
They turned the corner onto river road, and Lois asked, "Do you see it?" Sometimes having Superman for a partner had its advantages.
Clark nodded. "Yeah. It's right there." He pointed to a small hole-in-the-wall store which was almost obscured by the larger buildings on either side.
"That's it?" she asked incredulously.
He shrugged. "Yeah." Then he squeezed her shoulder. "What, were you expecting some kind of neon sign flashing, 'Miranda's Perfume Store. WE SELL THE LOVE DRUG HERE'?"
Lois laughed. "Well. Yeah. Or maybe a motto, 'Come on in and leave your inhibitions at the door'!"
"Criminals are stupid, but not usually that stupid." Clark joined her laughter.
"It would make our jobs a whole lot easier." She shrugged.
"Guess so." Then he pointed towards the shop. "There's a small purple sign on the door that says 'Miranda's'."
She shook her head, amazed at his abilities. Even though she had seen them so many times when he was in the Suit, she was still trying to come to terms with the image of *Clark* possessing such incredible abilities. It was almost mind-boggling. "Miranda's?" she asked.
"Miranda's," he confirmed. "There it is. I'm gonna check it out."
"Check it out?" He was going to go without her? What! Then the realization dawned on her. "Oh! Check it out!" She made a motion like she was pulling down glasses, and he nodded.
Clark pulled his glasses down his nose, and stared into the store, unsure of what he would find. He had never been to a perfume store before, much less a perfume store run by a crazy criminal!
"What? What do you see?" she asked anxiously.
"I don't believe it!" he said in a harsh whisper.
"What!" Sometimes she really wished she was the one with Superpowers!
He pulled his eyes away from the store and looked Lois in the eyes. He wasn't sure how she was going to react to what he was about to say. But he had to tell her. "Luthor."
"Lex Luthor? What's he doing there?" She scrunched up her face, trying to figure out what the handsome billionaire would be doing at such a hole in the wall perfume shop.
"Talking to her," he said softly. He knew Lois and Lex were friends and possibly a little more. She didn't believe him that Lex was up to no good. But maybe she would believe him now.
"Lex is talking to the perfume lady, Miranda? But why?" She wasn't sure what to believe any more except that Clark was telling her the truth.
Clark took a deep breath. He was going to have to tell her everything he knew about his arch nemesis. He had to start off bluntly. "Lois, Lex Luthor is a criminal."
"What?" she felt her breath catch in her chest. Lex Luthor was a criminal? But he was her friend.
"Lois, you have to believe me on this," he pleaded. "He is a criminal mastermind." He knew this had to be painful for her, but he had to tell her. She had to know.
"Lex?" she said again. She believed Clark, of course, but she was having trouble admitting it to herself that she had been wrong yet again.
"You have to believe me, Lois," he said earnestly. "When I first came to Metropolis, he saw me as a challenge, and he tried to get rid of me in any way he could. He was responsible for the Messenger disaster, the Metamide 5 drug, and so many other things, but I couldn't prove any of it. He always found a scapegoat and an airtight alibi, so he got away. And it's only gotten worse"
Lois shook her head. How dumb was she? "I believe you," she whispered. "Oh my god. He must know about the drug then. What are they doing?"
Clark focused his hearing and began to pick up shreds of conversation. He found himself cringing as the events unfolded before him. "They're fighting. She's … trying to hit on Luthor, but he doesn't seem to want her."
"What?" Lois shook her head trying to comprehend everything. "Argh! Why don't I have superpowers, too? It would sure make life a lot easier."
Clark laughed, and chose to ignore her question. "She's trying to kiss him. He's telling her he doesn't mix business and pleasure." He let his words trail off and focused on the conversation again.
"Business? Do you think he knows about the perfume?"
Clark shrugged. "I think he has to. What other business could he have with her?"
"I have no idea."
"Yes. It is the perfume. He knows about it. He said she developed it when she was working at LexLabs." He shuddered at the thought of Luthor getting his filthy paws on that horrible drug. Who knew what he would do with it?
"Really?" Lois shook her head. "She worked at Lex Labs? Do you think he wants the formula because she developed it there? He might think it belongs to him since she developed it with his money."
Clark nodded, his eyes still focused on the events unfolding before him. "They know each other," he muttered. "They met at Harvard."
"Lex went to Harvard?" Okay, she believed that. Lex probably had gone to Harvard. "*She* went to Harvard?"
It was obvious that the men in her life were definitely not what they had seemed. Clark was the love of her life. Superman was Clark. Lex Luthor was a master criminal extraordinaire who was affiliated with the crazy perfume lady. It kept getting stranger by the second. What else was going to happen? Was Perry really Elvis? Was Jimmy really a secret agent? Right now, she was ready to believe just about anything.
"Apparently. They seem like they knew each other pretty well." He wasn't sure what else to say, so he focused on the conversation in the perfume shop again. "He said, 'I'm the first to admit I've made a mistake,' and then she said, 'You're damned right you made a mistake'."
Lois's heart was racing, and she was dying to know what was going on inside the perfume shop. "What kind of mistake?" He couldn't stop talking now! She needed to know *everything*!
He blinked his eyes and pulled his gaze away from the small store. "Lois, you aren't going to believe this."
"What! What?" If he wasn't going to tell her what was going on, she wanted to see it for herself. She started gently tugging him closer to the store so she could look through a window or something.
He wasn't moving; he didn't want to take the chance that Lex Luthor might recognize them. "Wait, Lois! She sprayed him!"
"With the perfume?"
Clark nodded. "I think she thinks Luthor will lose his inhibitions."
"Does she want Lex to fall in love with her?"
Clark nodded. "I think she must." He inwardly shuddered. "Now she's trying to make him kiss her." He felt almost like a voyeur having to watch Miranda seduce Luthor. But the perfume didn't seem to be working.
"Is he kissing her?" God, she needed that vision gizmo thingy, too! Or else she needed to drag him close enough so they both could see.
"No!" Clark was shocked. He had fully expected Luthor to fall at Miranda's feet.
"He isn't? Did she spray him with the right perfume?" Lois couldn't believe Lex was immune to the drug that had so changed her life.
Clark shrugged. "It was in that oddly shaped bottle. It has to be the same one. Oh my god!"
"What!" She tugged on his arm.
"She's wearing nose plugs!" So that was why she wasn't affected. But what about Luthor?
"Figures. But if she sprayed Lex, then why isn't he losing his inhibitions? Does he know? He has to know. Is he blocking his nose, too?"
Clark shook his head. "I don't think so." Luthor didn't seem to be wearing nose plugs like Miranda. "At least not obviously."
Lois ran her hand through her hair, and started to pace behind Clark. Suddenly, she had an idea. "What if the reason Lex isn't affected is that he isn't attracted to Miranda? I mean, look at everyone at work. Jimmy is in love with April, a model. I can't explain Perry and Rahelia, but I think it's a fluke. It really comes down to the fact that women are running after handsome men, and men are running after beautiful women …"
Clark nodded. She seemed to be on the right track. That didn't explain everything. "But what about you?"
"What? You think I'm not attracted to you?"
She stopped in her tracks, and softly put her hands on his shoulders. "Oh, Clark, of course I was attracted to you." She squeezed his shoulders reassuringly, and pulled him into a bear hug. "I have *always* been attracted to you. Even if I tried to hide it from myself, the feeling has always been there." Just maybe hidden a little too deeply for anyone to know until last night.
Clark found himself smiling widely. He closed his eyes momentarily, and turned his head for a soft kiss. He finished her thought, "And that's how the perfume works? It lowers your inhibitions, but only if the latent feelings exist already?"
Lois nodded, and kissed his cheek. "Exactly. That has to be how it works." She squeezed his shoulders again. "And that has to mean that Lex must not have any feelings for Miranda."
"I guess not." He focused on the store again.
"Wait! He said he isn't sure about the temporary nature of the perfume."
"Temporary. At least that's good."
Clark sighed. "48 hours, but she is only using a 1% solution."
"48 hours is more than enough time to change someone's life," she said softly, and looked deeply into her newfound love's eyes.
"I know," he answered equally softly, but then he heard something else. "Oh my god."
"What!" She hated it when he didn't tell her exactly what he was hearing! "Clark!"
"If she uses a 100% solution, people will lose their inhibitions forever. And that's what Luthor is paying for!" A world without inhibitions would be a scary place, indeed.
"We have to stop her."
Suddenly, Clark's head jolted up, and he took a step back. "He's leaving! We should hide somewhere. He's going to wonder what we're doing here. The last thing we need is for him to see us."
He tugged her shoulder and they moved into the shadows between two stores. Clark stood in front of Lois, blocking her from any prying eyes.
"It would be way too dangerous," she agreed. Lois gazed down the street. "Oh, there's a car pulling up. Maybe he won't see us."
A large, black limonene pulled up in front of the store, and they watched as Lex Luthor strode out of the store and swiftly climbed into the waiting car.
"I can't believe he didn't have any feelings for her if we're right."
"Maybe we're wrong. Maybe he was wearing something I didn't see. Maybe he really isn't attracted to her. I have no idea." Clark shrugged again.
Lois nodded. "We should check out the store. How long do you think we should wait? Do you think the perfume is still in the air?" She had a feeling that was how she was affected yesterday afternoon. It wasn't going to happen again.
The car sped away, and Lex Luthor was gone beyond the horizon.
"I don't know." Clark considered it for a moment. "They were in some kind of back room." He pulled his glasses down his nose and looked into the store again. "She took her nose plugs out."
Lois nodded. "It must be safe."
"Maybe we should go in now."
"We can't waste any more time."
Clark shrugged. "Let's do it."
Lois nodded, and grabbed his hand. "Let's go, partner."
"Partner," he repeated, a large grin now perpetually plastered across his face. They were partners now in more than one sense. They would be partners forever.
Lois opened the large, wooden door, and some chimes tingled, indicating their arrival. The store was a fascinating array of sights and scents that assaulted their senses.
"Are you okay?" he whispered.
She nodded quickly. "I'm worried I might kill her when I see her," she said under her breath so only he could hear her.
He chuckled softly because he knew if given the chance, Lois might do just that.
They waited for Miranda to emerge from the back of the store, and they both took in the cluttered little shop. The shelves on the walls were lined with hundreds of antique and mass produced perfume bottles. Soaps, incense sticks, and candles of every shape and form lined every shelf and counter.
Clark let his eyes wander across the room, until his gaze finally rested on a desk in the back corner with a microscope, some books, and an array of vials full of different chemicals; probably more witches' brews.
"Can I help you? Are you looking for something in particular?" a deep, almost song-like voice rang out over the store, surprising both Lois and Clark, who were lost in their own little worlds of thought.
She looked exactly like she had stepped out of one of the pictures in Lois's pocket. Tall, blonde, exotic, and crazy. Even though she was the picture of politeness, both Lois and Clark could sense a trace of insanity. Maybe it was in her eyes.
Lois was the first to recover. "Oh, um, my, uh, boyfriend and I are looking for some perfume."
Clark felt the grin spread across his face again. He was her boyfriend! Those were words he never expected to hear cross his love's lips, and they felt so good to hear. He draped his arm casually around Lois's shoulders and turned to Miranda. "I wanted to buy my girlfriend a gift."
He planted a soft kiss on Lois's head, and reveled in the soft scent of her sweet shampoo. Even in a place like this perfume shop where his senses were assaulted by so many fragrances, he could still sense Lois's unique, wonderful scent.
"Lovers?" Miranda asked, with a slight sneer on her face. "I have a wide array of fragrances to spice up any romantic night."
Lois looked at Clark and bit her lip slightly, trying to control her impulse to snap back at the crazy woman. She'd bet that Miranda could spice up a night, now if the woman would remember it or not; that was a completely different story.
She wasn't sure what Miranda was going to offer them. Would it be something like 'Jungle Passion'? For some reason, Lois almost hoped she would get to see it! But not smell it. Right now, she really wished she had a pair of those nose plugs.
Clark put his hand on Lois's back and they followed Miranda to the back corner of the store.
"I have a wide array of scents for every occasion." She looked over her shelf for a moment. For a couple like yourselves, a new relationship, a budding love, try my 'Dark Rainy Nights', made from a collection of flowers grown only in the depths of the Amazon rain forest. Sure to enrich your passion for each other." She pulled a large black bottle from the top shelf.
It was a different bottle not the one she had sprayed yesterday. They had to keep their eyes open.
Clark drifted off looking around the store, and Lois knew what he was going to do. He was looking for the weird atomizer.
That meant she had to keep Miranda busy momentarily. "How did you …" Lois asked.
"I always know, my dear. Subtle touches, meaningful looks, love at its finest. But it soon fades." Her face took on an angry look, and it was almost like a shadow came over her. "It soon fades."
Lois wondered if she could possibly be talking about Lex Luthor. Maybe he was her love that had faded. "Do you make all these perfumes yourself," she asked, trying to change the subject. Miranda might be the type to turn violent when something upset her so horribly like the subject of love seemed to. Perhaps talking about herself would make Miranda regain her equilibrium.
It took the other woman a moment to regain her composure, but then she smiled. "Yes, of course I make my own perfumes. I was trained at Harvard as a chemist."
"Really?" Lois wanted to add, then why are you here making perfume, but she held her tongue.
Miranda nodded. "Many perfumers are chemists. In fact, the goal of someone who truly perfects her art is to cause a perfect chemical reaction."
Lois raised her eyebrows. "The perfect chemical reaction?" she repeated, hoping to spur Miranda to give more information.
"Humans are animals, governed by their sense of smell. Did you know that there are over one-thousand odor receptors in a human's nervous system, and it makes up a large percentage of the human genome?"
Clark had come up behind Lois again, and put his hand on her shoulder. Lois said, "I didn't realize that." She wasn't sure what else to say.
"All animals are ruled by their sense of smell. Humans included. The goal of any good perfumer is to harness these impulses and use them to their … customer's advantage."
A chill went up Lois's spine. This woman wanted to control people through their sense of smell. It was frightening that someone could have that much power.
"Well," Lois said sweetly, unable to really respond to Miranda's statement.
Clark jumped in, "Oh, sweetheart, look at the time. We're running late for our dinner reservations! Did you find the perfume you're looking for?"
Oh yeah, of course they did. Lois was sure that Clark had secured the bottle, and now they were ready to leave. But she couldn't let Dr. Evil know that. "Oh no! I haven't made up my mind." She flashed Clark a thankful look for rescuing her from the almost painful situation. "Can we come back after dinner?"
Clark smiled at her, and nodded. "Your wish is my command, my dear." He knew Miranda probably saw right through them. But right now he wasn't sure if he cared. He had what they had come for. It wasn't like Miranda was going to come right out and admit that she had made a perfume that made people lose their inhibitions. She was going to hint around at it ad nauseum.
Miranda interjected, "I close at 8."
"We'll be back," Lois said resolutely. She looked at Clark and winked. "He promised me a new perfume, and yours are so interesting." And deadly.
They walked out of the store, knowing that they would be back soon but not to buy perfume. They would be back with the police!
When they were out of the store, Lois stopped and looked at Clark. "Did you get the perfume?"
He patted his interior pocket, and said, "Absolutely." He pulled the oddly shaped bottle out. "Is this it?"
Lois pulled a picture out of her pocket and compared the two bottles. "Yeah, that looks like it." She stood up on her tiptoes and softly kissed him on the lips. "My hero, rescuing me from the madwoman, and stealing the love perfume."
Clark wrapped his arms around her, and brushed his lips against hers. "That's what I'm here for," he said. "Rescuing beautiful women and engaging in criminal activity."
"I thought so." She kissed him softly again. It felt so wonderful to be able to kiss him without any inhibition, without any fear. They were a couple and they were in love. It didn't get any better than this. "We should get this to someone who can analyze it."
"Who?" He thought for a second, and only one place came to mind. "We can't take it to LexLabs." It would be like handing Luthor the formula.
Lois shook her head quickly. "No, of course not." She thought about it for a second. "We can take it to S.T.A.R. Labs."
"S.T.A.R. Labs?" He had heard of them, but had never actually been there.
"It's a government agency, sort of like NASA.
Lois ran her hand up his arm and smiled. "Why thank you." She brushed her lips against his in a soft, sweet kiss. "I think we need to look into Miranda, too."
"Yeah." He brushed his lips against hers. "We do." Why did they have work to do when so many important things were going on in their lives?
"We have to do it fast." She took a step back and became all business-like again. "I mean, if she has a 100% solution of whatever it is and she somehow lets it loose, we don't know what will happen."
"The whole city will be affected." Clark took a deep breath. "And what if Luthor gets his hands on it?"
"That's why we have to stop them," Lois declared. They could do it if they worked together.
"Do you want to split up to make it go faster?"
Lois shook her head. "We're a team."
"I was hoping you'd say that." Clark wrapped his arms around her, and stared pleadingly into her eyes. "I'd miss you too much."
Her heart melted from his words and his look. This was one of the many reasons she had fallen for him. "I'd miss you, too." She stood up on her tiptoes, and softly kissed him on the lips.
"Let's get to S.T.A.R. Labs and have them start working on this."
"And then we'll head back to the newsroom, and find out more about Crazy Miranda." She considered it for a moment. "Maybe not the newsroom. It hasn't been 48 hours yet."
"Good point," he said. "But where else are we going to be able to do the research."
She gently put her hand on his shoulder, craving any contact with him. "I have no idea." Shrugging, she added, "I guess we have to go back to the Love Shack."
"The Love Shack?" He sighed. "Maybe the perfume will have worn off by now."
"I hope so." But she wasn't expecting anything; she was prepared for the worst. It hadn't been 48 hours.
Lois had been right. When they got back to the newsroom, it was still a madhouse. Sounds of love still emanated from the copy room. Colleagues were still practically chasing each other around the newsroom. Perry was singing to Rahelia. Jimmy was dressed all in leather, making out with the life sized-cardboard picture of his model.
"Love Shack. It's a little old place where we can get together!" she sang almost under her breath.
She rolled her eyes. "Come on, Clark; it was funny." If she didn't make light of the situation, she might find herself crying at its sheer absurdity. Who knew that a perfume could cause such chaos?
"Lo-is!" He tried to be frustrated, but he couldn't help laughing. She was right. It was funny in a strange, slightly painful way.
"I know. It's not funny." She sighed deeply and gazed around the newsroom again. "I can't believe it. I must have gotten a really dilute dose." Luckily. Who knew what would have happened had she gotten the concentrated drug. She probably would have spent the entire 48 hours making sweet love to Clark. Looking back, maybe that wouldn't have been so terrible.
He nodded. "Probably. That has to be why yours didn't last the full 48 hours, or even 24 hours. The chemist at STAR Labs said that the pheromone stuff loses its binding efficiency for blocking every 12 hours proportional to its concentration."
Lois's had been on the phone doing further research about Miranda while Clark had talked to the scientist. Now she was beginning to reg retit."Pheromone?"
Clark shrugged, not exactly sure how to explain it. "The guy was talking pretty fast, and I only picked up about half of what he said. I know they made up a large percentage of the perfume."
Lois nodded. "Okay."
"From what I could smell, I think they are animal based."
"Animal based?" She took Clark's notes off his desk and started to flip through them quickly.
"If I understood him correctly, I think it's a type of substance which animals release …"
Lois read from the page, "A volatile hormone or behavior- modifying agent. Typically used as a sexual attractant, and often in sexual aggression." She gasped. "Reducing inhibitions." Wow! It certainly was a very scarily powerful substance!
Clark nodded. "They think this perfume actually makes you sensitive to the pheromones secreted by others."
"Especially the person you're already attracted to?" She shook her head, and flipped the page. "The perfume was designed to interact with olfactory receptors and cause a second messenger reaction in the postsynaptic neuron, exciting an inhibitory interneuron, which propagates through a cascade to upper levels of the brain." She looked up at Clark, unsure about the biology, but knowing the physiological consequences. "Okay, that explains the sensitivity to the pheromones, but what about the reduced inhibitions?"
"I'm not sure. I don't think anyone knows exactly how the brain works, how feelings and emotions are controlled." He shrugged. "I don't know if they've isolated the mechanisms for emotional generation and processing yet, but I'm no neuroscientist."
Lois sighed. Now was not the time for a biology lesson. They knew the one major consequence. "We don't know how it works, but we know that it does work, and very effectively."
"So this drug somehow inhibits whatever part of your brain that controls your intellectual defense mechanisms?"
"I think so." She actually wasn't sure exactly what she thought anymore. "It seems like the feelings have to be there to begin wi th.All this does is inhibit your, uh, inhibitions, and makes you more sensitive to another person's emitted pheromones."
"Exactly," he said. The perfume was frightening, yet ingenious. No wonder Luthor wanted to control it. If he let the perfume out on the entire city, it would turn into a modern-day reincarnation of the biblical Sodom and Gomorrah. Metropolis would become a city without restraint, without morality.
"So you can't control yourself," she said. "It's like you're temporarily blinded by … love."
He took a deep breath, and stood up. "We *can't* let Luthor get his hands on this drug. If a 10% solution does this," he motioned around pointing out the chaos in the newsroom, "I can't even imagine what a 100% solution would do! It would cause complete disorder, and it would bring the city to shambles."
"A disaster," she said. "We have to stop them. Both of them." They couldn't focus on Lex completely. Right now, until Lex got his hands on it, they needed to stop Miranda, and that would stop Lex before he got the perfume. Unless he already had it. Then, it was anyone's game.
"Right." He ran a nervous hand through his hair. "Both of them." And they needed to do it *now* before it got further out of hand. Luthor was pure evil incarnate, and Miranda seemed willing and able to cater to his every destructive whim. It was a lethal combination.
Lois tried to look at the situation objectively. Since Miranda was currently in possession of the perfume, they had to focus on her first. "What do we know about Miranda?"
Clark grabbed Lois's notes off the corner of her desk, and started reading. "First in her class at Harvard. Chemistry major who aspired for a career in research. She won numerous awards in college and her early years at LexLabs. Worked for Luthor for 10 years."
"And after she left?" Lois peered over his shoulder at the notes she had taken while they were at S.T.A.R. Labs. Had Miranda and Lex been a love affair gone wrong? Was that why she left LexLabs after such an illustrious career? It didn't seem logical.
"It's like she disappeared." Fell of the face of the Earth was more like it.
"And became a perfume maker / mind control artist?" Since that was obviously the logical next step. Wasn't that what every mad scientist seemed to do?
"Exactly." He read a little further down. "Oh! Look at this! She got a grant recently. One guess who it's from!"
Lois shrugged, and offered the first thing that came to her mind. "Luthor?"
"Luthor." He nodded. Of course Luthor. Who else? This was one of his many contacts in the evil mind control division of Metropolis' scientist population. He seemed to have money in about every single illegal operation in the city.
Lois sighed deeply. "Should we call the police? We have the evidence."
"I think we should." He then heard voices coming from the elevator. "Wait!" He reached out and touched her arm before she grabbed the phone. "I don't believe it."
"What?" From the look in his eyes, Lois could tell he was focusing on something with one of his enhanced abilities. Since he was still wearing his glasses all the way up his nose, she assumed it was something he was hearing.
He sighed deeply. "Speak of the devils. Luthor and Miranda are in the elevator." What could they possibly be doing here now? Miranda probably wanted to see the results, and to show Luthor what her perfume could do first-hand.
"Are you kidding?" Lois sighed deeply. It seemed fitting. They were probably there to survey their handy work.
"I wish I was! We have to get out of here." He frantically looked around the newsroom for a place to hide. Miranda was bound to recognize them as the happy, young couple who came to her shop a few hours ago!
"We have to hide somewhere." Instinctively, Lois grabbed Clark's arm, and darted off to the supply closet, which was surprisingly empty.
The supply closet door slammed shut as the elevator doors opened, and Lex and Miranda stepped out into the newsroom.
"That was close," Clark said, as he heaved a large sigh of relief.
"What are they doing?" Lois once again wished she could see through doors.
"I'm sorry, Lois," he said softly. "I wish you could see, too."
"As long as one of us can, that's all that matters." She put her hand on his chest, hoping to reassure him. Of course she was jealous, but she realized how lucky she was to have a partner who was blessed with such wonderful powers. "Now what are they doing? Give me the play by play."
Lois was amazing. She seemed to accept his abilities fully and even if she didn't have the powers, she wanted to use his powers to her advantage. He shouldn't have expected anything less.
"Are they doing anything? Saying anything?" Lois prodded. She proceeded to look for any holes in the door or frame that might allow her to see, too.
Clark pulled his glasses down his nose and quickly burned two tiny holes in the door. "Here. Now you can see, too. They're still by the elevator."
"Thanks." She loved having Superman for a partner! Those abilities came in handy so often! But she had to get back to the issue at hand. "Why are they still standing there by the elevator? What are they saying?"
Clark focused on their conversation again. It was almost difficult to pick out their voices in the noisy newsroom, where the background noise was at a fevered pitch. "As far as I can tell, Miranda is surveying her handy work."
"Of course she is." Wasn't that what criminals always did? "But what is Lex doing with her? Does he want to check out his investment?"
Clark strained to hear the conversation. "Miranda is telling him that she only sprayed the newsroom with a 1% solution, and she wants him to imagine what a 100% solution would do."
"I can imagine," Lois answered. "Emotions running wild. Love running rampant. No control. Chaos and destruction. Sodom and Gomorah."
"Miranda said something like that, 'Emotions run wild. Love turns to despair, depression, hatred …' It almost sounds like a sales pitch. And he is obviously impressed. He agreed to go in 50/50 with her!"
"It probably is a sales pitch. She wants Lex to give her more money. 50/50? Wow."
He heard the voices again. "No! Wait! She doesn't only want Luthor to buy it. She wants Luthor to want her." Miranda and Luthor still stood at the top of the steps, surveying the newsroom, but Miranda seemed to be surveying more of Luthor than of the newsroom.
"We saw her spray him before. Is he affected at all?" Lois wondered how Lex could possibly be immune to the affects of the horrible perfume especially when he was sprayed at such a close range. He had to be affected. There was no was he wasn't.
"Oh my." Clark's jaw hung open, not willing to believe what he was hearing.
"What!" Lois hated being able to see, but not hear. It was almost better being able to do neither. No it wasn't. What was she talking about?
"Luthor *is* affected."
"Then why isn't he …" She let her voice trail off.
Clark took a sharp breath. "He doesn't want Miranda."
"What do you mean? Who does he want?"
"You," Clark said softly. His heart raced with both fear and anger. Luthor would do anything to win his ultimate prize. Lois. When that evil man has his mind set on something, he always seemed to get it. And, quite frankly, that scared Clark more than anything else in his life ever had.
"Me?" Her heart pounded in her chest. Lex Luthor was obsessed with her because of the perfume. So that had to mean he was attracted to her. She wasn't quite sure what to think.
If this had happened a few days ago, Lois would have been really excited to have the third richest man in the world in love with her, but now it was plain frightening. She was in love with Clark, and Luthor was the world's biggest criminal.
Before she had time to consider that thought, Clark spoke again, "Miranda is fuming, Lois. She can't believe Luthor doesn't want her. And she blames … you." Clark felt positively powerless. He had no idea what to do to protect Lois against a lustful Luthor and a psychotic mad scientist with a love potion. The one thing he knew for sure was that he needed to protect her at all costs. He couldn't let Luthor get close to Lois.
"Oh no," was all Lois could manage to say.
Lois and Clark watched in worried silence as the dangerous duo descended the stairs, and headed towards Lois's desk. Luthor led the way, and Miranda followed a few steps behind.
The one good thing of this entire situation was that Lois and Clark had dashed to the closet with their notes in their hands, so there was no chance of Lex or Miranda noticing that they had been researching the perfume.
"Lois, he's talking about you," Clark whispered forcefully, his fist clenched tightly, trying to hold his anger in check.
"About me? What's he saying?" She actually wasn't sure she wanted to know.
"Well …" Clark wasn't sure if he really wanted to tell Lois what he was hearing. Honestly, he didn't want to be hearing what he was hearing! It was at times like this, he wished he wouldn't have heard what Luthor was saying. It was like torture.
The perfume obviously had a horrible affect on Lex Luthor and it lowered his inhibitions. He was no longer acting like the suave, elegant, businessman; he was behaving like an uneducated truck driver: uncouth, lewd, and unruly. What upset Clark the most was that Luthor was making disgusting, sexual comments about Lois's body! Her legs, breasts, and buttocks seemed to be his favorite areas. Clark tried to push the sound of Luthor's disgusting voice out of his mind.
"Clark!" Lois saw the hand motions Lex was making, and she had a pretty good idea what he was saying, but she wanted to know for sure. It was going to upset her either way. "Tell me."
"He, uh …" Clark ran a nervous hand through his hair, knowing he had to tell her. "Well, he, um, uh, thinks you're beautiful, and he wants to find you to, um, ravage you." He had to fight back his anger. It was almost impossible to keep his voice under control.
Lois nodded. She had expected that much. Hear heart pounded with fear. Lex Luthor wanted to ravage her, and Lois knew that he had the power to get exactly what he wanted. And he wanted her. That meant he would stop at nothing to make her his, whether she wanted it or not.
Clark's arms tightened around his love's shoulders. He sensed her quickening pulse, and wanted to help her calm down, even though he was on edge, too. Now, hearing Luthor talk that way about the woman Clark loved made him want to burst out of the closet, grab Luthor by the neck, and make him apologize to Lois for everything he said. He probably wouldn't be able to strangle Luthor for very long before something would happen and he would let go. He wouldn't even get the emotional victory. It was a lose-lose situation. His morals would never let him kill or torture anyone, not even Lex Luthor.
Lois leaned back against Clark's strong arms, and he wrapped his arms around her tightly; the simple feel of her small body against his was enough to settle his nerves a bit. She was safe, and Luthor couldn't hurt her when she was safe in his arms.
Lois watched the events unfurl before her. Miranda paced behind Lex around the newsroom, and she looked angry. Very angry. Scarily angry. "Look at Miranda's face, Clark! What is she saying?"
Clark had tried to tune out of the conversation so he didn't have to hear Luthor's voice, and it took him a second to focus on the conversation again. "She said, 'I thought this would be more than a business partnership, but more like it was before'."
"Like it was before?" Lois shook her head.
"I guess so. But Luthor isn't having any of it. He said, 'I think not. I don't mix business and other people's pleasure.'" He sighed deeply. "And do you see her face?"
"She's really mad, Clark." Mad as in angry, as well as mad as in crazy. It was a horrible combination an angry, crazy person.
"He told her that he never felt anything for her." Clark cringed, almost feeling sorry for Miranda.
He nodded. "She asked him about you." He felt sick to his stomach, not wanting to hear Luthor's answer.
"Oh no." She her stomach drop, knowing the outcome couldn't be good, but desperately wanting to see and hear it unfold before her. "What did he say? What did he say?"
"Nothing yet." He saw Luthor's eyes fill with a longing, dreamy expression. "He looks like he is thinking about something." Clark clenched his fists in anger, pretty sure he knew what or who Luthor was thinking about.
"Probably more like fantasizing. God, probably about me." She couldn't help but feel a little violated, and very sick to her stomach.
"He hasn't said anything yet, but Miranda said, 'Soon all of Metropolis will feel the pain of love spurned the pain I am feeling right now. You broke my heart, Lex.'"
"What does that mean?" Lois had a feeling she knew exactly what Miranda meant. She wanted to see if Clark had the same feeling, too.
"I have no idea. Could she be planning to expose the city to one of her perfumes? Love broke her heart, so she is going to hurt everyone else?"
"It's like love made her insane." Lois shook her head incredulously.
Clark shook his head. "What sane person makes a perfume that causes people to lose all their inhibitions?"
"Good point," she said quickly. "I won't put spraying the whole city above her. My only question is how? How in the world is she going to do it?"
"I have no idea." She paused momentarily as she watched Lex ignore Miranda completely. He sat on the corner of Lois's desk, and was picking up all of her pens, and staring at them lovingly. He was practically drooling. Disgusting!
Clark covered her smaller hand with his and squeezed, hoping to reassure her that he was there for her. He knew that it had to be painful to watch someone do something so violating but not be able to do a thing about it. "Are you sure you're okay?"
She squeezed his hand in response, but her eyes were fixed on something else. "Look, she's leaving."
"I don't believe it," Clark muttered.
"What!" She was getting a little sick of Clark hearing things without telling her. Obviously she needed superhearing, too!
"What?" Lois looked at him incredulously. Fruit flies. The root of all their disagreements yesterday, and now they were rearing their ugly heads — or wings — again.
"She found your research about the fruit fly spraying on your desk." He almost laughed when he realized that all the fuss she had made over the article yesterday, and now it might actually be a lead to the story of the month, if not the year.
"She's going to spray the city with her perfume instead of the pesticide."
"I think so." Clark closed his eyes and tried to fight back the image of a city in love.
Lois sighed deeply, not wanting to think about the consequences, but finding she could think of nothing else. "Metropolis will feel the pain of love spurned. She wants to distribute her drug to the entire city, and what better way than …"
"A pesticide spraying." He watched as Miranda hurried to the stairs, eyes filled with a blind, raw rage like he had never seen before. She was driven mad by love gone wrong. Miranda was way past the point of no return.
"We should go after her." Clark ran a hand through his hair. He was torn between wanting to follow Miranda to save the city, and wanting to stay with Lois to protect her from Lex Luthor. "Come on."
"Go, Clark. Superman should be waiting for her at her store. I'll fax the police Miranda's description, and then I'll follow you in my car."
"What about Luthor?"
She put her hand on his chest, and smiled slightly. "I can handle Lex. Believe me." And she could.
"I don't know, Lois." He hesitated, worried about what a Luthor with no inhibitions would do to her.
Lois sighed. An uninhibited Lex Luthor. Maybe Clark was right to worry, but she could take care of herself. Even though Clark thought he always had to protect her, he had to learn that she had survived for many years without him. "Believe me, Clark. I'll be fine. We're wasting valuable time. We have to stop Miranda."
She grabbed his hands, and looked into his eyes, hoping to show him that she knew what she was doing, then she reached one of her hands up and started to unbutton his shirt, hoping he would get the hint and change into Superman.
He considered her words for a moment, and he realized that she really could take care of herself. There was no was he could protect her every minute of the day, no matter how much he wanted to. Stopping Miranda from spraying the entire city was more important than watching Lois all day. "You're right," he said softly.
"I'm always right," she challenged, and she inched her face closer to his.
Mouths inches apart, Clark whispered, "You're always right," before their lips connected in a soft, loving kiss.
Superman landed in front of the familiar perfume store, and hesitated before he burst in through the door. His enhanced hearing picked up a conversation between Miranda and Lex Luthor.
"Luthor?" he muttered. "How did he get here?" Before Clark broke through the door, he picked up a fragment of the conversation that was going on inside the store. He heard an agitated Luthor say, "You said you could take me to my love, Lois Lane. Miranda, I don't have time for this. Lois is waiting for me."
Clark groaned inwardly. Luthor was still affected by the perfume, and he was focused on one thing: Lois Lane. Maybe that was how Miranda had convinced him to leave with her. What if he thought Lois was there in Miranda's store waiting for him?
Miranda's eerily sweet voice rang out, "My dearest Lex, we both know better than that. Love knows no time. All it knows is pain. And, oh the pain; it hurts so desperately, Lex."
Clark knew he had to go into the store to prevent anything bad from happening. He needed to stop Miranda before she could unleash havoc on the entire city, and Clark knew that he also had to save Lex Luthor from whatever Miranda was doing to him, as much as he didn't want to.
Just before Clark broke through the door, he heard Luthor say, "Get me out of this, Miranda. I demand it at once."
Clark pulled the door open and stepped into the familiar store. He saw Miranda, a devilish look in her eyes, armed with a large beaker of what Clark could only assume was some kind of deadly chemical. "This stops now, Miranda," he said in his best Superman voice.
"Superman!" Luthor exclaimed.
Miranda paid neither any heed, and she continued on her psychotic diatribe. "Soon you will die. I will kill you like you killed my heart."
Clark took a step closer, judging when and how he could grab the beaker from her or get Luthor out of harm's way.
"Goodbye, Lex, my darling. Hope your death is slow and painful." She tilted the beaker over Luthor's head, and laughed maniacally.
Clark slowly moved behind Miranda to a point where he could grab the beaker from her. "No, Miranda. This stops here." He reached up and grabbed the beaker from her hand just before she tipped the entire bottle. Then he inhaled the small bit that had escaped into the air.
Her eyes widened as she watched her chemical disappear. "Nooooooooooooooooo!" she moaned loudly, knowing her plan was foiled.
At that moment, the doors burst open, and a large group of police officers rushed into the store. Lois was right behind them.
"Superman, what's going on here?" a police man said. "Miss Lane said you'd be here with a drug lord."
Lois. He couldn't help but smile. Then Clark looked at the officer, making sure he looked like the superhero he was. He presented Miranda to the officer and said, "This woman sprayed the 'Daily Planet' newsroom with a drug that made everyone fall in love; she planned to kill Lex Luthor, and then unleash the drug out over the entire city." He desperately wanted to tell the police everything Luthor had done connected to both the perfume and to every other criminal happening in the city, but he decided to hold his tongue. They didn't want to get him for something so small; they needed to put all of their information together to make sure he was convicted of each and every crime he had committed.
Before the officer responded to Clark, another officer said, "Mr. Luthor, are you all right."
"All right? I'm in love," Lex said loudly in a very sing-song tone. "I'm in love, in love with a beautiful girl." His arms flailed around madly, in tune to his song.
Clark groaned inwardly. He still hadn't dealt with Luthor's problem yet. He honestly had no idea what to do. All he could do was hope that Miranda had sprayed him with the less concentrated solution so he would be cured in 48 hours. If she had sprayed him with the more concentrated poison, he had no idea what to do other than let the doctors and nurses handle the problem.
Now that Miranda was in police custody, Clark needed to destroy the last remnants of the love drug, so Miranda would not be able to hurt anyone else with her love potion. Her loveless rage would never be unleashed again.
When Clark finished talking to the police officers, and he was sure that Miranda was firmly in custody, he allowed himself to look up around the store, unconsciously searching for Lois.
She was over there. In the corner, interviewing a few police officers. His heart raced with desire as he watched the way her hand quickly moved across her notebook, scrawling down notes for her story, the way her long hair flipped over her shoulder as she turned to face him, the way her entire face lit up when their eyes met.
He crossed the small room, and moved towards her, wishing they were alone so he could gather her in his arms.
"Are you okay?" she asked softly. She ached to reach out to touch him, to run her hand around that large gold shield on his chest. "I saw you inhale that chemical. What was it? Was it the drug?" And if it was the drug, was he okay?
He smiled as she made a show of taking out her notebook and pretending to interview him. They were so achingly close, but they had to act professionally since they were in public. "I'm fine." He smiled slightly. "I don't know what it was, but I'm fine," he said, his voice a little husky. The chemical hadn't seemed to affect him at all, whatever it was. "Although, I'd be even better if …"
The corners of her mouth turned up into a sly smile. "If we got out of here?" Their eyes met, and Lois saw the same aching in his eyes. She desperately wished they were alone together so they could talk. Right. Talk. Or do something much more fun than talking. Cuddling. Right. And kissing. And snuggling.
Clark laughed softly. Lois knew exactly what he was thinking. "Well, yeah." He grinned. "But I'd be even better if I could kiss you. Right here, right now." He knew it was risky, especially in front of so many people including Lex Luthor. It was almost worth the risk, though. He felt like teaching Luthor a lesson, and what better way to do it.
Lois smiled at him, and winked hoping he would get her hint and follow her lead. "Did you swallow that perfume?" she accused, jokingly. However, she wouldn't mind a bit if he actually had.
Clark grinned back at the love of his life. Yes, he had swallowed a chemical, but he had no idea if it had been the perfume. His high metabolic rate prevented him from being affected by almost anything his body came into contact with. But that didn't mean …
"Lois Lane," he announced loudly, so everyone in the room could hear him. "I love you. I want you. I need you."
Lois looked into his eyes and saw how serious he was, even though they both knew it was all in fun. "Oh, Superman," she gushed, in typical star struck, adoring fashion. "You don't know how long I've waited …" she let her voice trail off. "But you're not yourself. I can't …"
Clark smiled at Lois as he watched and listened to her feeble protests which were for show. He knew she wanted him to kiss her as much as he wanted to do it. "You can, Lois," he said softly.
She shrugged, and passionately threw herself into her lover's arms. "I can," she declared. "I love you, Superman."
He pulled her close, hugged her tightly, and pressed his lips to hers. This felt amazing, wonderful, and slightly naughty all at the same time. They were showing their love under the guise of his secret identity, with so many people watching. It was very dangerous, but easily blamed on the love drug.
And they both were enjoying each and every moment of it. The danger of being caught. The passion smoldering between them. The look on Lex Luthor's face.
Through the passion of their kiss, they heard some of the officers cat calling, but one voice stood out over the rest of the crowd. The loud, pitiful, soul-searing moan, "Nooooooo! Lois! Don't! Say you love me," cut through the air like a knife. A pained Luthor pulled on his own hair. "Say you love meeeeeeeeeeeeeeee! Lois! I love you and only you."
Lois chose to ignore the criminal's pitiful moans, and never broke her lips from Clark's. She needed to show Lex Luthor that she could never have any feelings for him. What better way to do that than a lovely object lesson with the most handsome man in the entire world?
She was in love with Clark and only Clark. She could not imagine another day in her life without Clark. She was ready to continue the journey of life with him by her side forever.
The police officers led Luthor out of the store and towards a waiting ambulance, but Lex sang loudly, "I love you, a bushel and a peck, a bushel and a peck and a hug around the neck. Lois Lane, I need you. I want you. You're my everything. I am hopelessly, eternally in love with you, and only you, Lois Lane."
Clark knew Luthor was still under the perfume's spell, but that still didn't change the chill that crept up his back whenever Luthor mentioned his love for Lois. Lex Luthor was a dangerous man. When he had his mind set on something, he would stop at nothing to get it. Hopefully, this obsession with Lois was a fleeting fantasy that would fly away with the effects of the perfume.
"I love you, Lois," Clark whispered into her ear, still clutching her tightly. He never wanted to let her go.
Lois smiled, despite the sick feeling in her stomach. Clark's simple, heartfelt words could always lift her spirits no matter what the circumstances. She was in love with Clark Kent for that reason. Hopefully, Lex Luthor's obsession would disappear with the effects of the perfume. If not, they would get through it together. Lois and Clark could defeat Lex Luthor. Together, they could overcome any obstacle no matter how great.
The last thing Luthor said before he got into the ambulance was, "I love you Lois Lane. I will stop at nothing until I make you mine."
A chill ran up Lois's spine when she heard his declaration. She had no doubt that he would stop at nothing to achieve his goals. And she was the object of his every desire at least for the time being.
She was not a prize for Lex Luthor to win. This was one time Luthor would not succeed. Tricky, yes. Really, it meant that she and Clark needed to stop him before he could do anything about it. And they would.
When nearly everyone was gone, and Lois and Superman were practically alone in the store, Lois realized that they were doing nothing productive. "We should really get out of here," Lois said softly, tugging on his arm.
Clark nodded, and smiled at her. "You're right. We should. There's nothing else we can do here," he agreed. "Just let me change quickly," he whispered.
Lois nodded in agreement, and turned towards the door. "See you outside?" she asked almost under her breath, so no one else could hear.
"Absolutely." He few out of the store in a flash, and a few seconds later, reentered the store as Clark Kent.
"Ready to go, partner?" Lois asked. Her mouth had turned into a full-fledged grin. It was amazing that her partner, the love of her life, also possessed so many superhuman powers. It almost left her speechless.
Clark grabbed her extended hand, and nodded. "Let's go home, partner," he agreed. The sooner they got all of their hopes and fears out into the open, the sooner they could get on with their lives together. It was the beginning of their new life together. It was a second chance.
Lois squeezed his hand tightly, and followed him out through the door out to the midst of the busy city. They walked for a few blocks, almost in silence, enjoying each other's company, but knowing they had so much to talk about and not knowing exactly where to start.
Clark broke the ice first. "Where did you park your car?" There. That was certainly a very safe topic. Too safe.
"At work," Lois said in a very matter-of-fact tone. "I took a cab here because I wasn't sure where I would be able to park." She decided to go along that line of conversation.
"Oh," was Clark's only response. He took a deep breath before he said, "Do you maybe want me to, you know," he let his voice trail off and made what he hoped seemed like a flying motion with his right hand.
"What?" Then her heart began racing when she realized what he was implying. "Oh! You want to fly!"
He immediately took his statement back. "Well, not if you don't want …"
Before he had a chance to finish his statement, Lois exclaimed, "Of course, Clark. I would be honored." Did she want to fly? What kind of question was that? He knew her better than that. Of course she wanted to fly!
He felt a grin spread across his face, and he almost laughed at how eager she was because her eagerness matched his exactly. "Are you sure, Lois? We could walk back," he teased.
Not wanting to hear any more protests, especially when it had been his idea in the first place, Lois pushed Clark towards an empty ally. During this process, she tugged on his tie, giving him the big hint that she was in no way kidding. "I'm positive, Clark. I want to fly," she said dreamily, her mind already imagining the feeling of soaring through the air in her love's arms.
He smiled widely, knowing it was beyond the time to tease Lois. She knew what she wanted, and she wanted it now. "Your wish is my command," he said. Then he quickly spun into the famous blue and red suit before her eyes.
"Oh my god," she whispered, awestruck. "You have to tell me how you do that." He almost looked like the Tasmanian Devil! It was really cool! He must have spent years practicing. She felt very privileged that he had shown her something so amazing.
He scooped her into his arms, and laughed, allowing himself to act on his playful feelings. "Well, Ms. Lane, if I told you, I'd have to kill you."
Lois squealed when he swept her off her feet, but then she said, "You think your so super, Kent, but I've got you all figured out." She aimlessly traced her hand along a path created by his S-shield.
He cocked his head, and smiled knowingly. "Oh yeah?"
Lois tilted her head, and stared into his eyes. She nodded slowly, deliberately. "Oh yeah," she said softly, and she inched her head slightly closer to his.
He leaned down and touched his forehead to hers. "I'll bet you know what I'm thinking right now."
She smiled, and brought her face closer. "I think you're going to kiss me," she said in a very matter-of-fact tone.
"Mmm, and you're so right." He planted a soft kiss onto her inviting lips, preventing her from saying anything more. Then he took off into the air, and flew towards Lois's apartment.
"Do you want me to land in the alley over there behind your building?" Clark asked when they neared her apartment. He had taken the slightly scenic route, so it had taken surprisingly long for them to reach their final destination. He knew he had unconsciously taken the long, slow way because he wanted to relish the feeling of Lois in his arms. No, it wasn't the first time that he had flown with her, but it was the first time they had flown together with both admitting their feelings for each other, and, especially, with Lois knowing his secret. He had never felt closer to anyone in his life than flying with her clutched tightly in his arms.
Lois heard his voice, and was drawn out of her fantasy, and back to the real world. "The window," she said quickly, pointing towards her apartment. She had left the kitchen window open, as was her habit, for him to fly in. After she had gotten home this morning, she had shut and locked the window tightly, hoping to keep Superman out of her home, and out of her life. However, after she realized her mistake, and realized that she was in love with Clark, she had opened the window again. For good.
It had first been open for Superman, then closed for good, and now open to the man of her dreams, Clark. She would never shut him out again.
"Is it open?" he asked.
Lois smiled up at her companion. "Of course. It's always open for you."
"Thank you," he said, and kissed her head softly before he flew in through the window. For once, he understood exactly what she meant. Instead of continuing down that dangerous path, which would lead to things more fun than their impending conversation, Clark stopped in the kitchen, and said, "We're here."
Lois reluctantly stepped out of his arms even though she almost didn't want to. She had felt so safe, so loved, so wanted. In fact, she almost hated being alone on her feet again without him.
"We're here," she repeated, not sure what else to say. No. She knew what else to say; she didn't want to break their calm, loving, triumphant atmosphere with a swift kick back to their personal problems.
She stared at the man she had discovered she loved. They had almost ignored everything that had happened between them. Yes, they had forgiven each other and had both revealed their feelings for one another, but were feelings alone enough to make a relationship last?
Her actions this morning could have damaged any potential relationship they might have had. If they didn't properly address what had happened, their relationship would never survive. A painful first few hours of their relationship without ever talking through their pain and forgiving both each other and themselves could ruin the best relationship.
She had never thought about forever before today. Now she was looking forward to it. She wanted to spend a fairytale forever with Clark, and only Clark.
However, she wasn't exactly sure how to begin their impending painful conversation. And it looked like he expected her to say something. Of course he expected her to start.
Just like always, he was letting her take the lead. Normally, in the office, she was the one who enjoyed being in charge, but in her personal life, it was a different story. She didn't have much experience with serious relationships, and those experiences she did have were almost all painful. All she knew was that she didn't want this relationship to end up as one of her federal disasters. He was the first man she had ever really loved. There, she said it. Loved. He was her first, her only. And she didn't want to say anything to ruin it.
She found herself smiling at Clark, even though her own emotional thoughts were in shambles. He looked so cute waiting, like a nervous little puppy dog. Underneath that flashy blue spandex, Superman really was a human being with thoughts, feelings, and flaws. He was fallible, and that made him more attractive.
Superman really was her best friend Clark. He wasn't really the chiseled, stoic superhero. He was the man she cuddled with watching movies on the couch. He was the man she ate Chinese food with after work. He was the man she worked with every day, that she fought with, that she bossed around. He was her junior partner. He was the man she loved more than anyone else in the world. He was Clark, plain and simple. He was nothing more than a normal man with an extraordinary side job.
Her gaze rested on the S-shield on his chest. He was so majestic, a pillar of all the good and pure things in the world. And he was the man who was in love with her. That mere thought was more exciting than anything else.
"Do you want to sit down," she asked nervously, pointing at her couch. Clark smiled at Lois warmly. "Yeah," he agreed, mostly to make idle conversation. "We should sit down." He grinned at her, knowing how much she wanted to see his spin move again. "But do you mind if I change out of this suit?"
Lois grinned. "Only if you show me how you do it."
"What?" he asked innocently, knowing he had read her mind. "This?" He reached back and unbuckled the top of his suit, and spun around almost in slow motion.
"Uh-huh," she said, mesmerized. "So that's how you do it." He spun around, hands swirling around his body faster than he spun, removing parts of the suit, and replacing them with his street clothes. "Wow," was all she could manage to say. She wasn't sure if any words could explain what she was feeling.
Hmm, she was definitely feeling slightly warm. In all that spinning, she could have sworn she had seen more Clark than he might have intended. Even though he would probably deny it, she had a feeling that he had spun so slowly deliberately. Of course he wanted her to see him partially naked. And she was not complaining. Seeing Clark Kent naked was something she planned on doing again and again and again for years to come.
In what seemed like a millisecond, Clark stood before Lois dressed in the casual short-sleeved shirt and jeans he had been wearing earlier. He grinned at the stunned expression on her face. "Told you it was cool, didn't I?"
"Are you going to kill me now?" She winked at him, continuing their flirty banter. Then she realized this banter was nothing new. They had flirted like this almost since the moment they met only she had never realized it was flirting.
"Only if smothering you with kisses would do it." He reached out, and pulled her close. His voice dropped from his jovial laughter to almost a whisper, "Because that's what I intend to do every day for the rest of my life." He wasn't joking any more.
"Oh that works," she said breathlessly, before their lips met in another loving kiss. How she had lived this long without knowing such utter pleasure was beyond her. But now she was ready for everything their relationship was bound to be.
When their lips were together, she knew she never wanted to be anywhere else. Ever. This was where she belonged, snuggled in Clark's arms.
No. She was wrong. It wasn't where she belonged. It was where they belonged together, entwined as one. They needed each other to survive. Alone, they merely existed, not knowing what it was like to be truly loved. Now their love would teach them to live life to the fullest. Their lives before each other would pale in comparison to their life together.
Clark tried to pull Lois as close to him as possible, aching with the strong feelings of love coursing through his veins. He'd never though himself possible of such an intense love.
His heart pounded in nervous anticipation of the confrontation that was to come when their lips broke apart. Their wonderful kiss could only last so long. A real, adult relationship wasn't made of passionate kisses and loving caresses. It had to be more than physical. "Lois," he said softly.
She looked up at him, and smiled weakly. She knew they were avoiding the inevitable. "Clark, we have to talk."
"About what," he said automatically. From the look in her eyes, he knew that she didn't think his comment was funny at all. He sighed deeply, knowing it was now or never. "I know, I know. We have to talk. But where do we start?"
She grabbed his hand and pulled him down onto the couch. "I have no idea." She looked into his eyes, and said, "We need to talk about everything, but I don't know where to start. I am so confused."
He squeezed her hand. "I know. I am, too. I don't know how to start either. But we have to do this if we're ever going to think of this as more than a fling."
"Do you want more than a fling?" She thought she knew the answer, but she wanted absolute confirmation.
"Absolutely," he breathed. Now for the question which he might regret for the rest of his life, "Do you?" He waited with a drawn breath, thinking and hoping he knew the answer, but wondering if his instincts had been wrong all along. One thing was for sure. He would not be able to live if she said she didn't. It was that simple.
Lois smiled up at him. "Absolutely." She squeezed his hand when she heard him exhale. "I could never have a fling. Not with you. Clark, you're the only man I've ever," her breath caught in her throat. "Loved. Wanted to spend my life with." The words tumbled out in a steady string. Once those heartfelt words started flowing, there was no stopping the emotional line of flow between her heart and her mouth.
He squeezed her hand back, so thankful that she felt the same way. "I want that, too. Oh god, Lois. You don't know how much I want that, too." He scooted closer, narrowing the once lengthy distance between them, and planted a soft kiss on her forehead. "I've been waiting so long, for this moment. To hear you say those words, and now to finally hear you tell me you love me, too."
She looked up into his sparkling eyes. Tears were streaming down her own cheeks. This was all more than she had ever imagined. Love. Clark. The two seemed to go together perfectly. "It's amazing," she breathed. "Being in your arms." She snuggled closer to him, trying to take in all of the wonderful, new sensations their closeness was creating inside her.
"Holding you close." He tightened his grip around her small body.
"Flying with you. God, Clark, I've never felt that way before. Up there, you weren't Superman. You were the man I love." She grinned at him. "You *are* the man I love."
He found his lips turning up into a smile. "I love flying with you in my arms." Then his grin faltered when he was faced with his horrible thoughts again. "I love you so much, Lois, but I keep wondering …"
Lois immediately sensed the change in the mood. They couldn't ignore what had happened this morning any longer. She would have to admit she had been horribly at fault. "Wondering what?" she asked cautiously.
"This morning. Did you …? Do you …?" With tears in his eyes, he whispered, "Did you really think I could have raped you?"
"No," she said softly.
"No," he repeated, unsure how to continue. Now that the taboo topic was out in the open, he had no idea what to say.
Lois rubbed her eyes. "I love you so much, Clark, but I hate myself. I really do." She shook her head madly. "Why is it that as soon as I meet someone so wonderful, I go and jump to conclusions, even if they are so hurtful? I don't even think. What is my problem?" She took a shuddering deep breath. Here it was, happening yet again. Lois Lane was sticking her foot in her mouth, but now she had so much more to lose. She had potentially ruined the best thing in her life.
"Lois," he said, as he tentatively reached his hand up to brush away her tears, and found himself tucking a stray wisp of hair behind her ear. "Oh, Lois, we're both so messed up."
They were two crazy people on the cusp of a whirlwind romance. Two lonely warriors beginning their special adventure through the world together.
"It's me, Clark." She looked up with tears prickling at her eyes. "I accused you of something I knew you would never do."
She pulled away from him, but he put his hand on her shoulder, pulling her back to his warm embrace. She had hurt him so badly, but he knew that she was hurting inside just as much. They would get through this together. There was no other way.
"I know," he said softly. And he did. He knew that she hadn't known what she was saying, really, even though she'd sounded so serious. Deep down, she hadn't meant any of it. She had been scared and desperate, clinging to any possible explanation she could imagine.
"No, Clark, you can't know." She took a deep breath. "Ever since that first moment I saw you in Perry's office, I knew there was something about you. I couldn't put my finger on it right away, but I knew it was something." A smile crossed her lips when she thought of his many endearing qualities that had drawn her to him. She lightly touched his arm, and said, "I guess at first, I was scared by your disarming good looks."
He turned away, trying to hide the blush that had spread across his face. "Lois …"
"Then, when I first talked to you, I realized you have this amazing aura around you." She squeezed his hand, and continued, "Clark, sometimes I wonder if you know how much affect you have on people with that amazing, warm, charismatic personality." She took a deep breath. "And as much as I was drawn to you, I was also so jealous."
"Jealous? Of me?"
She nodded sheepishly. "Yeah. Jealous. Clark, I don't have that charisma. I can't make people my friend instantly. I can't immediately draw a source to open up to me."
"Lois, I can't do that."
"You can," she said with a smile. "And I love it and hate it about you. I've known it since the moment we started working together. I didn't want to admit that anyone was better than I was at anything. I started to look at you as a professional rival, someone I needed to defeat, and maybe the first person who would pose a challenge. But, in reality, my heart saw this handsome, kind, generous man. A man I had always pictured giving my heart to."
"Oh, Lois." He wrapped his arm around her back and pulled her towards him. She didn't resist.
She leaned into his embrace and took a deep breath. "No, Clark, let me finish." She smiled at him apologetically, knowing that if he cut her off at all, she would never regain the courage to tell him her inner thoughts. "Believe me, I would have never admitted it to myself, but the more we worked together, the more that feeling grew. Only it scared me so much, I took it the wrong way. I didn't see you as my friend, my potential lover, my equal. And I know I hurt you." The tears streamed down her face in earnest, and her words came out like sobs. "Oh, Clark, I've hurt you so much. I've done so many horrible things to you. And you're not like them. You're not. I've known it from the beginning." She couldn't keep comparing Clark to every other man she's ever met. It wasn't fair.
He pulled her to him tightly. "Like who?" he prodded, knowing Lois needed to get it all out.
"Everyone," she said simply. "You're not a typical man. You won't hurt me. You won't take advantage of me. You won't use me. You won't rape me. You're different."
"Have you been …" He didn't want to voice the horrible thought.
"No, no. It was consensual," she said softly.
"Oh, Clark, it was horrible." She went stiff and emotionless. "It hurt so badly. He wouldn't stop. And then he left. He left. Without even saying goodbye."
"Oh, Lois," he breathed, wanting to take her pain away. He couldn't imagine how someone could do something so horrible to Lois, the most wonderful woman in the world. All the other men in her life had completely broken her trust in other people. No wonder she hadn't trusted him.
"But I know you're not like that. You're not him. You're not every other man. I know that. You would never do something like that to me."
"Never," he declared. "I can't believe anyone would hurt you so badly." He had no idea what to do to make her feel better. In fact, he wasn't sure if she could feel better. It had scarred her soul, and he couldn't blame her for her reactions to him.
"As badly as I hurt you," she whispered. "I did exactly the same thing."
"Lois," he said, and planted a soft kiss on her forehead. "You didn't."
"Clark, I'm serious. I ruined your first time like mine was ruined."
He looked her straight in the eyes, and declared, "You didn't ruin it, Lois."
"Yeah right." She pulled out of his arms. He was lying. She knew it. He couldn't be serious.
He shook his head vigorously. "Oh god, Lois, it was the most amazing night of my life."
"But the morning must have ruined it."
He shrugged. "Well, it wasn't the most pleasant moment of my life."
"But, Lois, we got through it. We found each other. Even if it did take a little illegal pheromone spray to relieve our blindness."
She held back a chuckle before her heart dropped again. "But you're really okay with what I did to you? I wouldn't blame you if you hated me forever."
"I could never hate you, Lois." He smiled at her. "Never. No matter what happens. My love is forever." He inched his face closer to hers, eying those luscious, pouty lips that were begging him to kiss them.
"Forever? No matter what?"
"No matter what. I love you, Lois. I mean it when I say my love is forever." He closed the gap between their lips, and covered hers with his own.
She hadn't done anything to deserve him. Nothing except being crazy, messed up, psychotic Lois Lane. And maybe that was enough. She allowed herself to melt into his embrace, and surrender to his kiss.
All of their fears floated from their consciousness. The only thing that mattered was the titillating friction between their lips, the erotic tango of their tongues exploring each other's mouths, the feeling of their hands exploring each other's bodies.
There was only one reality. They were together and in love. Their pasts no longer mattered. They both had to move on. The only important things were their present and their future. And that would be spent together.
When they finally broke apart, faces separated by mere inches, Lois whispered, "I love you, Clark. Don't ever forget that."
"I know, Lois. And don't you ever forget that I love you, too."
She laughed softly. "I never thought it could be like this."
"Love. Happiness. It's overtaking my body, and I don't feel anything but pure joy."
He laughed softly. "I know. It's how I've felt almost every second since the moment I met you."
"Oh, Clark." She reached out and kissed him again. His words were enough to make her heart melt into a large, sticky puddle of goo.
He looked at her, reached his hand out to cup her small face in his large hand, and said in all seriousness, "Lois, I hope you will always look at me like this, with that loving, innocent light in your eyes."
"Only if you always cup my face in your hand like that and brush the wisps of hair from my eyes like that." She giggled at the thought of a forever with the man of her dreams.
"You'd better believe it," he answered gruffly. "But only if we spend the rest of our lives together." Was that what he thought it was? A proposal? This soon? He wasn't sure if they were ready for marriage yet certainly not one day in to their relationship. However, he knew he wanted to marry her eventually. So if this was a proposal, he meant each and every word.
"Count on it." She wrapped her arms around his neck, and brought her lips back down to his, to seal their agreement with a kiss. They kissed, and Lois let her hands roam down Clark's body until she got to his pants. She was going to change the impression she had left with him. His second time would be amazing. It would completely overshadow his marred first time.
He put his hand on top of hers, halting her soft ministrations. "Wait, Lois. We've been through so much today." At her look of horror, Clark continued, "God, it's not like I don't want to. Believe me, oh god, I want to. But, Lois, maybe we shouldn't sleep together tonight."
"Are you sure?" She pulled away in shock.
"I'm sure." He took a deep breath, wondering how to explain his feelings to her without hurting her. "Our first time was incredible. I can't describe it. But I want our second time to be so much better. Right now we are both so emotionally drained." He grinned at her. "Believe me; I want to do it again, and again, and again." But they weren't ready for it yet. And he didn't want to rush anything. He wasn't ready to do it with her until she was ready.
And he knew she was far from ready.
"Maybe you're right," she admitted. "We shouldn't rush. We have the rest of their lives to be with each other. There are still so many things we need to talk about."
"I know. But they can wait." He smiled at her. "Right now, I want to fall asleep with the woman I love in my arms."
Lois grinned back, and took a step towards him and into his arms. "I'd like nothing better."
The morning light streamed through the window, and fell on Lois's smiling face. It was so bright, her eyes were aching to open to greet the daylight. Morning. She had to wake from her comfortable, restful sleep. She did want to wake up to spend the first happy day of her new life, but she wanted to stay here in bed for a little bit longer.
She yawned, eyes still squeezed tightly shut, and tried to stretch. However, there was something holding her back. Something strong, yet soft, but stopping her from moving. She was trapped. Only this time, she wasn't scared. She was content, safe, loved. What a wonderful feeling of being trapped. This was a place she never wanted to leave.
Lois turned her head, trying to fight the ever-insistent pull of consciousness. She squeezed her eyes shut more tightly. What a strange sense of déjà vu! But what a difference one day made. This was no longer a nightmare. It was the most pleasant dream imaginable.
Lois slowly awoke to the world around her, but this time there was no sense of urgency. Today, she was in her own room, on her soft bed with comfortable sheets. It was a sense of comfortable familiarity and security.
But there was still one thing that made her heart race. This time it wasn't with fear, but with a sense of love, desire, and hope for the future. She was completely safe and secure in her love's arms.
Yesterday had been the worst day of her life, but it had also been the best day ever. She had run the gamut of emotions in just over twelve houses. It had been exhausting yet exhilarating. And she wouldn't have changed one minute.
Even though she had gotten their relationship off on the wrong foot, and although she had never really had a successful relationship, she knew he was a novice as well. They would learn about love together. And they would succeed. She would teach him, and would let him teach her about the meaning of their new lives. About happiness. About love. About two lives melding together into one.
She could never go back to her life before yesterday. Now that she knew life on the other side, she could never return. She wouldn't change anything they went through to get to this point. Their ordeal proved that they were both stronger together than they ever could hope to be apart.
Yes, she had been horrible to him. But he had forgiven her. And there was nothing that she could do to change it. She had to spend the rest of her life showing him how much she loved him. And that certainly wouldn't be a problem. Although she knew that everything she had ever known and held true in her life was about to be turned upside down, she was eager to see what the future held for her.
Clark shifted next to her, almost like he could read her mind. "Mmm, what a beautiful morning," he said sleepily. He was staring right at her.
"Good morning yourself, handsome."
Clark tightened his grip around her, and said, "I can't believe this is real. Please tell me it's not a dream."
Lois laughed, and scooted closer. "It is a dream. My wildest dream come true."
Clark pulled her close, and pressed his lips to hers. It was real. Oh so real. And this time, it was completely reciprocated. He allowed himself to surrender his entire body and soul to the kiss. All of his sensations were overwhelmed by the feeling of her lips against his, her hands roaming his body, his hands exploring her curves. The passion between them was electric.
Shocks passed up Lois's spine with each of Clark's gentle caresses. She had no idea how she had ever been able to live without his exquisitely soft touch. He lovingly trailed a line of kisses across her jaw, and she gasped with pleasure when their lips connected again. All of these amazing kisses were leaving her breathless. No other man had ever been able to take her breath away like Clark could.
As suddenly as it had begun, Clark reluctantly pulled away from the kiss. Lois moaned in protest, but Clark said, "Look at the time. It's after ten."
"So …" She knew what he was doing. Stalling. She would have to change that.
He put his hand up to her lips, preventing her from kissing him again. If he kissed her again, he would never be able to stop. "Lois, we should go to work to see …"
"… if the Love Shack is still in working order?"
"I was going to say, 'see if everyone's all right,' but yeah." He shrugged. He desperately wanted to stay here in bed with Lois, but they had to remember that the world didn't really revolve around their love.
"Do we have to go? The Planet still turns without us there." She almost couldn't believe her own words.
He shrugged. "It does. But I won't feel right until I know Luthor and Miranda's havoc has run its course." Clark shuddered at the thought of his nemesis and the thoughts of what had happened when the perfume had gotten loose at 'The Planet' and especially the thought of Luthor potentially stopping at nothing until Lois was his.
"Fine. But remember, I'm the one who wanted to stay in bed." They had to investigate, and they both knew it couldn't wait any longer.
The doors opened into the newsroom, and Lois stepped out anxious to see if anything had changed overnight. She grabbed Clark's hand, and took a few steps towards her desk.
"It looks …" She let her gaze trail along the newsroom. "… Normal, I guess."
Clark nodded. "At least the balloons are gone."
"And no more love music." She shrugged. It looked promising. Maybe the 'Love Shack' was no more. Could it really be back to the newsroom she knew and loved? They would soon see. "Where's Perry?"
Clark didn't need to pull down his glasses to know. "He's in his office. Oh he doesn't sound good."
"What?" Lois turned towards the editor's office, and took a few steps towards it.
"He's on the phone with the legal department." He took a deep breath, his heart filled with sympathy for his boss. "It looks like Rahelia is suing him!"
Lois shook her head. "Oh no. For what?" There was only one option, "Sexual harassment?" She still couldn't understand what Perry saw in the cleaning lady in the first place, but she decided not to go down that road. That was way more than she ever needed to know about her boss.
He nodded. "Exactly. I guess she wasn't exposed to any pheromones."
"Guess not. *That* would have been a mess." She shook her head woefully. It seemed this horrible love drug had far-reaching ramifications. This drug really could ruin a person's life.
"We need to talk to him," he said quickly.
She nodded, and they both walked towards Perry's office. The newsroom really did look like it was completely back to normal, working order. No one was running around chasing anyone else. They didn't hear any strange noises coming from the copy room. Jimmy wasn't bothering them about a model named April. It seemed to be business as usual. Thank goodness.
They paused outside Perry's office momentarily, and peered in. The editor was sitting at his desk, head buried in his hands, looking like he was a completely broken man.
"Chief?" Clark said softly, almost unsure if they should try to talk to him.
The older man looked up, eyes filled with sadness. He didn't look like the strong, confident man they knew. And that was kind of scary. "Clark! Lois!"
They took his words as an invitation to come in, so they both took seats around the editor's desk. Lois looked the papers strewn on his desk, while Clark asked, "Are you okay?"
The older man shrugged. "I'll never be okay again," he said, monotonously.
Lois read from one of the legal documents in her hand. "Sexual harassment. Rahelia."
"Look at yesterday's morning edition!" He held the paper up weakly. "And none of this is the worst part." He shook his head woefully, and looked at his two employees. "Alice left me."
"What!" Clark exclaimed.
"Oh no!" Lois said. That horrible drug really had ruined someone's life.
Perry sighed. "Can you blame her? I'm nothing more than a no good hound dog livin' at the heartbreak hotel."
"But it's not your fault, Chief," Lois said quickly, and covered his hand reassuringly. "You have a complete defense."
"Of course it's my fault." He pulled his hand away.
"No, Chief. It's not your fault. You were drugged," Lois answered quickly. She sighed, and said, "We all were drugged."
"Lois and I found out that a scientist, funded by Lex Luthor, drugged all of us." He shook his head angrily. Thinking about Lex Luthor and Miranda's plot again made his blood boil.
Perry looked up. "What was that, Clark? Drugged? Lex Luthor?"
Lois chimed in. "At the perfume show in the newsroom, a woman named Miranda sprayed everyone with her perfume, Revenge …"
"It is specially designed with pheromone compounds that…"
Perry interrupted, "Phero-what?"
"Pheromone," Lois answered. "It made all of us lose our inhibitions."
Clark added, "Fall madly in love, completely beyond our control." He caught Lois's eye and smiled, knowing that they wouldn't be together without the 'love drug'. At the pace they'd been going, it might have taken them years to get to this point without any extra help. He'd almost like to parade in front of Luthor's jail cell to show him what his drug had done.
"A love drug?" the older man asked skeptically.
"Exactly," Lois answered. "It made you fall in love with Rahelia, Jimmy fall in love with a model, me fall in love with Clark, and Cat fall in love with every man she saw."
Clark turned to Lois and grinned. She said she'd fallen in love with him so matter-of-factly. It was no longer shocking for her. She'd fallen in love with him. Actually, she'd only admitted her love for him. She'd told him that she might have loved him before she'd admitted it to herself. The love drug was only a catalyst to make her realize her own feelings.
Perry straightened in his chair, and ran a hand through his thinning hair. "Well, that'll take care of this lawsuit, but not Alice. She'll never listen to me. Not about this. She'll never take me back. Not after this. No matter what."
Lois smiled at him. "Treat her like you treated Rahelia. Act like you've been sprayed again."
Clark continued, "Shower her with presents. Write her love poems."
"She'll never go for it," Perry said dejectedly.
"Take her to Graceland," Lois interjected, and grinned at Perry.
The older man laughed. "Graceland. Now that she might buy. But sappy love songs and poems. That's not Alice."
"All you can do is try," Lois said simply.
"I can't believe it was all a drug. And Lex Luthor was involved?" He immediately switched back to editor-mode, one which was more familiar to him.
"And it was all related to fruit flies," Lois said anxiously. "Stupid fruit flies." Although she hated to admit it, she owed those fruit flies. Big time.
The editor's eyes twinkled. "So it wasn't a, what did you say, stupid mood piece after all?"
Lois's cheeks turned red. "What are you talking about? It's only not a mood piece because I was involved." She rolled her eyes, and said, "I'll, no, we'll have the story on your desk in twenty minutes."
Perry shook his head. "That's what I like to hear." He took a deep breath, and said again, "I can't believe it was a drug masked in perfume. Why in the world did I agree to let marketing have a perfume show here? Never again."
"The love drug wasn't that bad for everyone," Clark said, and looked at Lois with a twinkle in his eyes.
She grabbed his hand and squeezed. "It makes some people realize their true feelings for each other."
Perry looked from Lois to Clark and back to Lois. He gasped in shock," You two?"
They nodded. Yes, they were together. Of course it was unexpected, but it felt so right. And it was all due to the love drug.
"Judas priest!" A smile finally crossed Perry's face. "You know, this reminds me of when Elvis first laid eyes on Pricilla. She was only a girl then, but whoa, Nellie …"
Before either could reply, Jimmy darted through the door with a tall, blonde woman clinging to his hand.
"Lois, Clark, Chief, this is April, the love of my life," Jimmy said, positively beaming and glowing with bliss.
Their collective jaws dropped in shock. Jimmy. And a model. Did that seem right? Did Jimmy somehow get a hold of that love drug and spray April? Too many questions and not nearly enough answers.
"She thinks I'm cute!" he said, almost giggling. Then April leaned down and kissed him so hard, it made everyone in the room speechless.
After they sent their story to Perry, Lois looked to Clark, and said, "Let's get out of here."
He looked up at the clock. "But it's only eleven."
She stood up, and wrapped her arms around his neck. "I know. We broke a huge story, Jimmy actually *got* his model girlfriend, and we have a brand new relationship. Everything seems right with the world." She paused for a second. "Except for Perry, but I'm sure he and Alice will be fine eventually." Then she tugged on his tie, bringing his face down inches from hers. "So let's play hooky."
"Interesting logic," he said softly. "But brilliant." He stood up, and wrapped his arms around her waist.
"Let's get out of here," she whispered, and planted a series of soft kisses on his cheek.
"Okay." He smiled widely and kissed her on the lips. "You don't have to ask me twice. Hmm, sitting here at work all day or playing hooky with the woman I love. Choices, choices." They both deserved the rest of the day off. They still had a lot of work to do to catch Lex Luthor in this and all of his other schemes, but one day wasn't going to set them back. It was a job that could take months, but it would be more rewarding than any other story they had written.
Lois raised her eyebrow, and looked at the elevator. "Race you downstairs," she said jovially. "You take the elevator, and I'll take the stairs."
He laughed, and leaned down to whisper into her ear. "Race you *up*stairs."
"Ooh upstairs! I forgot!" She tugged on his tie. "Why don't we go upstairs together?"
He nodded, and allowed her to pull him towards the staircase, laughing all the way. When the door closed behind them, he wrapped her in his arms and took off up the stairs at superspeed.
When they stepped out on the roof, Lois looked out over the Metropolis skyline and sighed deeply.
Clark stepped behind her, and wrapped his arms around her. "What's wrong?" he said softly into her ear.
Lois turned to face him. "I can't stop thinking about it."
"Can't stop thinking about what?" He'd thought they'd settled everything, and now they were going to focus on being a couple in love on the cusp of forever.
"We need to do it again. I can't believe how much I hurt you." She closed her eyes so not to look into his innocent eyes. "I can't believe I ruined it for you."
"What?" He ran a hand along the side of her face. "What do we have to do again?" Then he kissed her lightly, to show her that everything was all right.
"Our first time," she said in a declarative tone. She opened her eyes, and looked straight into his expressive brown ones. "Your first time," she said softly.
"Oh, Lois …" He brushed his hand along her cheek, wiping away a stray tear that had escaped her eyes.
"No, Clark, let me talk. There's no way you can argue with me here." She smiled slightly at his chuckle. "Clark, nothing can change the fact that I ruined your first time."
"Lois! How many times do I have to tell you? It was wonderful, magical, incredible. You didn't ruin anything." He pulled her closer and kissed the top of her head. "Lois, it was beautiful. Everything I've ever hoped for and more."
She shook her head wildly. "No, Clark. No one's first time should end like that. I can't believe what I did to you. I had to have ruined yours with my horrible attitude, with my jumping to wild conclusions without letting you explain, with my pigheaded stubbornness." She took a deep breath. "Your first time should have been magical."
"Lois," he said softly. "I understand what happened, why you reacted the way you did. And I don't blame you." He cupped his hand around her face and gently tilted it up so she was looking into his eyes. "Lois, I don't blame you. You were afraid. I was afraid. It was a mistake on both our parts."
She shook her head. "I know we're okay with everything, and it is probably better … okay, healthier to forget it all, but that doesn't change the fact that you we need to have a real first time. One that will give us wonderful memories to last an eternity rather than memories that draw upon mixed emotions. Clark, I want our first time to be something we both remember, something we both cherish."
"Lois," he breathed. He knew she was right.
"Clark, I almost envy you for having the patience to save yourself for *the one*, for *me*." She took a deep breath. "I wish I had saved myself for you."
He smiled widely. "I don't."
She wrinkled her nose at him, shocked. "You don't?"
"Nope." He shook his head. "Your experiences made you what you are today, the woman I am hopelessly, desperately, madly in love with. I wouldn't want to change a single thing about you." He took a deep breath. "I love you, Lois. And next time can be our joint first time. Our first time together."
Lois smiled at him, Clark, the man she was destined to be with for the rest of her life. "Our first time together," she repeated. "Our first time. Let's go home, Clark."
Clark grinned at her. "Home." For them to re-consummate their love for each other? He was looking forward to his second time as much as he had the first.
She nodded. "But I don't know if I want …"
"… for us to make love again so soon." He nodded, almost understanding what she meant. Their first time should be spontaneous, wonderful, unplanned. They had to let it happen rather than schedule it into an emotionally charged day when so much else was going on. It had to be special, wonderful, emotional in itself.
"Are you okay with that?" she asked anxiously. "We can if you …"
"No," he said sharply. "Lois, I think you're right. We need time alone together to develop our relationship before we …"
"… cross that bridge again."
He kissed her softly, and said, lips mere inches from hers, "Exactly. Lois, I want to make love to you more than anything else in the world, but I know we need time to recover, to heal, to let our love grow."
They needed time to be together to share experiences and feelings with each other, to learn as much as they could about each other.
"Oh god, Clark, I want you so badly, but I don't want our relationship to only be about the physical."
"I know. It started out so physically, but we need to let our emotional bond grow first."
She squeezed him tightly, grateful he understood. "I've never really been in a relationship before that wasn't purely physical." She'd never had a close friend until she met Clark.
"I've never been in an adult relationship at all." He laughed slightly. "I mean, there was Lana in high school, but …"
Lois found herself laughing, too. "Well, then we'll teach each other."
"Teach each other," he said softly. He knew that their physical relationship would come when they were ready, but they needed a strong emotional foundation first if they wanted their love to survive. They both already knew the physical attraction was there, and that their physical love was magical.
He slowly brushed his lips against hers, and brought one hand around the back of her head to play with her long, silky hair. The feeling of their lips rubbing together creating a tantalizing friction between them, their tongues dancing together, their bodies joining as one, was almost too much for his body to stand. He loved her, wanted her, needed her, couldn't believe he really had her.
In the span of two days, Clark Kent had been through the gamut of emotions, from unrivaled elation, to the depths of despair, and finally back to the lofty peaks of unbridled joy. Tonight, he truly was Clark Kent, a man desperately in love with Lois Lane.
The feeling of this magical kiss made him realize that his life with Lois both now and in the future truly were his wildest dreams come true.
The basic a-plot and a few lines are paraphrased/taken from the episode "Pheromone My Lovely" which was its basic inspiration. Also, a bit of inspiration was taken from two lines from the tv show "Dharma and Greg" in the episode "And Then There's the Wedding," which were used in the story. Also, one line from the song 'At the Beginning' from the movie Anastasia was used in the story.
I've had this basic idea for a few years, but I was finally inspired to actually write it because of Wendy Richards. Her wonderful story 'Poison' led to the question, "What if Clark had slept with Lois in PML? Would that have been rape?" I told Wendy about my idea, and she encouraged me to write the story. There are so many more people I need to thank for helping me with this story. My beta readers, Sara for the beginning, and Tricia for the whole thing; you are the best. Tricia, I have no idea how many times you've read this monster in its various incarnations, but believe me, I am eternally grateful. I'd like to thank AnnieM for a late night brainstorming session that she probably doesn't remember, but really helped me. And very special thanks to Carol Malo for her wonderfully ruthless constructive criticism — and for teaching me about the evils of repetition. Thank you to the readers on the lcficmbs for their encouragement, and extremely helpful suggestions. Everyone gave me such wonderful feedback and lively discussions which inspired me and helped make this story what it is. Thank you so much.