By Tracey <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Submitted: October, 2007
Summary: Just how close can two best friends be before they cross the line into more than just friends? Lois and Clark explore this intriguing question during a story set in S2.
I don't think it's any secret that S2 has always been a Favorite of mine, mostly because you can really see Lois and Clark beginning to get closer to each other. I always imagined them hanging out together as best friends, learning new things about each other and exploring and extending their friendship. We got to see a bit of that in the show, but there was always that nagging thought in my mind… just how close can best friends be before they cross the line into more than friends? I decided to do a little investigating into that matter, and this story was born. I ended up writing it for the DVD Fundraiser project, so thank you to all the people who put that project together (and I'm sorry it took me so long to get it to the archive!). This story was a lot of fun to write, and I really hope that you enjoy it.
As an aside, this is the first story I've written in goodness knows how long — seriously, we're talking years here! — so I'm feeling a bit out of the L&C fic-writing loop. Elena was awesome to beta the start of this one for me a very long time ago (though she probably doesn't remember — it was almost three years ago!) and Jo read through some of it while she was visiting me this summer. Annie, Sarah, Jill, and Kaylle also stepped in to beta the finished product and gave some terrific encouragement with lots of very helpful comments. Thanks, ladies! Thanks also to my GEs, Rachel and Laura, for polishing the final draft.
His warning that she had arrived consisted only of two sharp knocks before the door to his apartment was being opened. Lois Lane appeared in the entrance, cradling a six-pack of Diet Coke in one arm and her jacket and a rented movie in the other. Immediately, she began speaking, but a cordial greeting didn't seem to be the order of business. "I brought the drinks and the movie — did you call for pizza?" she asked, slightly breathless.
Clark jogged up the stairs, joining her on the landing. "I did." He chuckled as he held out his arm, catching the door and allowing his partner and best friend to move safely through. "And hello to you, too, Lois."
"Hi." She flashed him a smile as she passed him, taking the stairs two at a time and moving toward the small kitchen that adjoined his living room. On the way, she tossed her jacket over the back of the couch, and her shoes found themselves sprawled somewhere beneath the kitchen table. The diet soda in her arms landed in the refrigerator before Clark had even made it down the stairs himself.
"So what kind of pizza did you get?" Lois asked as she returned from the kitchen, meeting him in front of the couch. She sat down on the edge of one cushion, movie still in hand, her eyes already scouring the living room for the remote control to the television.
"Half cheese, half everything but the kitchen sink. Should be here in a few minutes," he answered, slightly amused at the way she had made herself at home so quickly. It was a typical Friday night for them — soda, pizza, and a movie from the video store that was about a block from Lois's apartment. They'd started this tradition a few weeks ago, simply as a way to wind down after a stressful week at the Planet. Spending the time together was more enjoyable than sitting alone in their respective apartments, though neither partner had come right out and said so.
He was just about to sit down beside her when she turned suddenly towards him, looking confused. "Uh, Clark? Where'd your TV go?"
"TV?" He looked at her, his expression blank.
In answer, she pointed towards the empty space on the other side of his refrigerator, where his television usually sat. "Big, square box, lots of colorful pictures, loud sounds, mindless entertainment? You know, the television?"
"Oh. Oh, oh, right!" he exclaimed. "I mean, I knew what you meant, but I — oh, never mind. I actually moved it and the VCR into my bedroom the other night. Sorry, I totally forgot that you hadn't been over since then."
"O-kay," she replied and then looked at him, awaiting his next sentence and an explanation. When he only paused, she asked the obvious. "Why?"
Clark gave her one of those are-you-living-on-Mars looks. "Game four of the American League playoff…the Mets and the Red Sox.
It was a great game, too — tied at the end of nine, so it went into extra innings… and then in the 11th inning, the Mets had the bases loaded with only one out…" he trailed off as she tilted her head towards him, an amused half-smile on her lips.
Getting the implied message, he hurried onto the point. "Right. Anyway, I wanted to make sure I caught the end of the game, but it was late. I didn't want to fall asleep on the couch, so… "He motioned toward the archway that led to his bedroom to complete the explanation.
Lois grinned at him. "I guess that would explain why I couldn't find the remote."
"That would be why." He chuckled along with her. "It's actually kind of nice having it in there. I like being able to put the news on in the morning and watch it while I get dressed for work, you know? But I guess I can go get it and bring it back in here for tonight."
He began to move toward the bedroom, but before he could get very far, Lois stopped him. "Leave it, Clark. You don't have to do that just for me."
Glancing back at her, he continued his movement towards the bedroom. "No, it's really no problem. Just give me a second."
Apparently realizing that he wasn't going to listen to her while she sat on his couch in the living room, Lois stood and followed him into the next room. She flopped down on his bed, bouncing slightly on the soft mattress. "Seriously, don't bother. If you like your television in your bedroom, leave it. We can just watch the movie in here. That is," she added hastily, "if you don't mind having me in your bed."
She meant them innocently enough, but her words made Clark's eyebrows climb his forehead. Mind having Lois in his bed? Just the mere mention sent awareness through every nerve ending in his body. "Nah, I think I might be able to handle that," he said, throwing a teasing smile in her direction.
"Clark! You know what I meant." An endearing — and, in his opinion, absolutely adorable — blush crossed her cheeks. "You are such a guy sometimes!" She groaned, but since she was chuckling now, too, he knew that she wasn't angry.
"Sorry, Lois," he apologized, though his tone sounded anything but apologetic. "You can't blame a guy, really. A beautiful woman, pizza on the way, and the whole weekend ahead… my small male brain is too happy right now to actually think about what I'm saying."
He noticed that the twin spots of pink on her cheeks grew just a shade deeper at his compliment of her, but she seemed to take it in stride, pulling her legs up onto the bed and crossing them beneath her before responding. "You mean men really do think before they speak? And here all this time I thought that was just a myth."
Jokingly, he put a hand over his heart and staggered toward her. "You wound me, you know that? Now, come on, hand over the movie, and let's get it started. The pizza should be here any second." He held a hand out toward her, but no sooner had he finished his sentence than there was a knock at the door.
"How do they do that?" Lois wondered aloud.
Clark grinned. "I'll get it — the pizza's on me this time, anyway. You start the movie."
"Deal. And thanks." Lois jumped up and made her way over to the television while Clark jogged into the living room and up the stairs.
He grabbed his wallet off the small table on the landing and opened the door. A minute later, he'd paid the delivery guy, plus a pretty decent tip, and was on his way to the kitchen, pizza in hand. At best, it was lukewarm against his palm, so Clark set it down on the table, giving it a quick once-over with his heat vision — all the while thinking perhaps he'd yet again been a bit too generous with the tip.
When the pizza was steaming like it had been pulled fresh from the oven, he grabbed two plates from the cupboard by the sink and some forks and knives, just in case he had made their dinner too hot. As he dished the slices out onto the plates, he could hear Lois shuffling around in the bedroom, muttering something about the abundance of advertisements at the beginnings of videos. If his super hearing wasn't mistaken, she was threatening to write an article about the movie industry and their completely annoying and compulsive habit to over-market movies.
Clark shook his head as he grabbed two soda cans from the refrigerator. His partner was something else, that was for sure. Feisty was a word that came to mind… passionate, too, but that was just her nature. She had a stubborn streak longer than a Kansas plain, and she worked harder and longer than anyone he knew. She leapt into things without checking the water level first, though he'd been trying lately to get her to stop and think rationally before making a decision. Sadly, something told him that he had a few decades more work ahead of him to reach that goal — if he ever did. In the year and a half that he'd known her, he had been witness to quite a few of her more reckless endeavors, most of which had culminated with either Clark or Superman having to pluck her out of harm's way at the very last moment.
But in that time, he'd also seen her softer side — loyal and caring and thoughtful — and it was those moments that he treasured. Those nights like tonight, when she let her guard down in front of him and allowed him to see a woman that she rarely showed to the rest of the world — a woman who would joke around with him, cry at the sappy part of the movie, and then turn around and scarf three pieces of pizza in record time. It seemed, quite remarkably, that the more time he spent with her, the harder he fell for her.
Clark sighed, his good mood suddenly deflated. It was the one sticky point in his otherwise pretty wonderful life. Lois was his best friend, that was for sure, but in the end, she was still just a friend.
He should really count his blessings, though; at least she wasn't engaged to Lex Luthor anymore — the spring of the past year had been one of the worst of his life: Lois, engaged to marry a criminal mastermind who just happened to also be his archenemy, and Clark trapped in a cage made of kryptonite, unable to do a single thing but listen to the ominously muffled sound of the wedding march floating down from somewhere above him. It had been an excruciating experience that he never wanted to repeat.
Unbelievably, they'd come through all that, their friendship rocky but still intact. He'd even recanted his declaration of love — though in his defense, he'd had his fingers crossed the whole time. He'd wanted her to trust him, and he'd seen no other way. They would never have the same friendship, and she would be more guarded around him, constantly wary of his intentions. She certainly wouldn't be in his bedroom right now, bouncing on the mattress, yelling for him to hurry up with the pizza and wondering what the heck was taking so long…
"I'm coming!" he called out, her voice reining his thoughts in for the time being. He hurried into the bedroom, handing her a plate and a can of soda. "Sorry," he apologized. "Here, I just got you a piece of each."
"Thanks." Lois took the proffered plate, but didn't move to eat it yet. She was looking at him, a curious tilt to her head. "What were you doing in there, anyway? Contemplating life's journey over pizza?"
"Something like that," he replied, ducking back into the kitchen to retrieve his own plate and drink.
She had already dug into her pizza when he returned with his a few moments later. "Well, what did you decide?" she half-asked, her mouth full and her eyes on the TV screen as the movie began.
"Decide about what?"
"Life. You were contemplating it in the kitchen?"
"Oh, yeah." Clark looked over at her as he settled on the bed beside her, propping up against some pillows. While he'd been in the kitchen earlier, she'd pulled her dark hair up into a messy ponytail on top of her head. A few pieces had escaped and were running wildly down the back of her neck, and her face was free of make-up with the exception of the soft sheen of gloss covering her lips. Sitting on his bed like that, her clothes comfy and her mouth stuffed with pizza crust, she looked beautiful to him.
"I decided that I've never been happier," he answered quietly. She smiled at him, and they ate in companionable silence as the movie played on.
Something clicked, bringing Lois out of the deep sleep she'd slipped into. The first thing she noticed was how quiet it was without the constant chatter of the television and hum of the VCR. Clark must have put the sleep timer on at some point, though how long ago, Lois had no idea.
She moved closer to the body that was lying next to her, snuggling up beside him and throwing a careless arm over his waist. Comfortably drifting somewhere between sleep and wakefulness, she buried her face into his back, wishing that he wasn't lying on his side, turned away from her.
There was a blanket at the bottom of the bed; she could feel it against her feet, so she shifted, grabbing it with one hand and untangling it until she could pull it over both of their bodies, warding off the slight coolness of the night air. It had been one of those warm, early October evenings in Metropolis — Indian summer at its best — so they'd cracked the bedroom windows in Clark's apartment just slightly as they'd settled in to watch the movie. However, judging by the chill in the room, they'd fallen asleep before the movie was over, and the windows were still open, leaving the bedroom susceptible to the falling nighttime temperature.
Not that she was in any rush to close them, though; the blanket, combined with the warmth of Clark's body, made for a more than ample heating system.
Vaguely, she wondered what time it was. The last time she'd looked at the alarm clock on his dresser, it had been just after eleven o'clock. She wasn't sure how long they'd been asleep, but it had to be nearing midnight or possibly later by now.
Ah well, it didn't matter. She was safe, warm, and perfectly happy to stay right where she was. She sighed and waited for sleep to sneak back and claim her once again. With any luck, he wouldn't wake up, and she would be able to sleep the rest of the night right where she was.
Of course, she'd never admit to anyone that she secretly liked falling asleep at Clark's like this. In previous times, when she'd fallen asleep on the couch, he would usually get up and cover her with a blanket. Once she had woken up to find him sitting on the floor in front of her, giving her room to stretch out if she needed it. There had been that one time, too, when they'd both been so tired they'd fallen asleep leaning against each other, and neither had woken until early the next morning.
It was definitely different falling asleep in his bed, though. There was something more intimate about it… and the way she had instinctively wrapped her body around his… well, Lois wasn't going to analyze that any further. She and Clark had just gotten back their casual, easygoing friendship, and she wasn't going to do anything to jeopardize it. She remembered standing outside the Daily Planet not long after her non-wedding to Lex Luthor, regarding Clark with newly-opened eyes. Right then, it was as if she was seeing him for the first time, and it seemed not only possible to love him as more than a friend, but downright probable that she already did.
Luckily, he had stopped her before she embarrassed herself, and their friendship had slowly but steadily grown again until it was even deeper and more meaningful than before. They spent more time together, just hanging out and getting to know each other all over again. His place, hers, a casual lunch while they were on a break, takeout on weekends — just having fun, and Lois had never felt as safe with anyone else as she did with him. So safe that she let herself do things like this, falling asleep at his apartment for what had to be the hundredth time since she'd known him. Each time, though, she had woken up with that same feeling of contentment and comfort that she was feeling right now.
It wasn't like she needed to get up tomorrow morning, anyway; tomorrow was Saturday, and neither partner had to report to the newsroom. Perry had given them the day off after a week of long hours and several page one exclusives. So whatever time it was, it didn't matter to her. She closed her eyes, listening to the sound of Clark breathing softly beside her.
Still, in typical Lois Lane fashion, she sat up a moment later, curious. Trying not to disturb him, she peeked over the broad shoulder that was blocking her view of the digital alarm clock.
She put her hand on that shoulder, elevating herself just enough to see.
"It's one-fifteen, Lois," mumbled a drowsy voice from somewhere beneath her.
Lois grinned in the darkness. He knew her so well. She moved over slightly as he rolled onto his back, looking up into her eyes.
"Hey, I think we fell asleep," she said in a conspiratorial whisper, her mouth twitching with the urge to laugh.
"You think?" he replied, grinning back at her. "I want you to know that I hold you responsible — you were the one who rented 'You've Got Mail' for the fifth time."
"It's a good movie!" she defended herself. "A funny, romantic comedy with a very cute plotline… and who doesn't love Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks together —"
"Right." Clark interrupted her with a wide yawn, turning slightly and rolling towards her. "And not that I don't love discussing the quality of the movies you rent, but it is one-fifteen in the morning, and I'd rather go back to sleep." He threw an arm over her waist and pulled her close, clearly wanting her to lie back down as well.
"Well, fine. But what if I want to go home now?" she challenged him. Not that she did, of course, but she couldn't just let him think she had agreed with him so easily.
"So go home," he mumbled, his eyes still closed. His arm belied his words, however, not budging an inch.
"But then driving all the way home to my apartment doesn't sound very appealing right now. I guess I could stay, then."
"So stay," came the short, sweet, sleepy answer.
She went on, ignoring his groan of protest at the sound of her voice. Outlining her options, she continued weighing the pros and cons of each decision. "Of course, if I do stay, I'd have to sleep in my clothes. I didn't bring pajamas to change into."
Though his eyes stayed closed, he didn't try to hide the impish smile that appeared on his lips, the corners of his mouth upturned as he answered her. "So don't wear anything."
"Clark!" She whacked his arm for that comment, even though she found herself smiling, too. "Nah, you'd enjoy that way too much," she teased, wondering if her flirting back would catch him off guard. It was fun sometimes to see the surprise on his face. She liked shocking him.
This time, though, the tables quickly turned as he surprised her. He looked up, his eyes finding hers through the darkness. He didn't miss a beat, his voice low and roughened by sleep.
"You would, too, you know."
Lois gasped slightly at the sudden crackle of sexual tension that snapped through the air at his unexpected comment. Suddenly the hand on her midsection seemed anything but friendly, and the feel of his legs against hers anything but comfortable. Despite the darkness of the room, she found she had trouble pulling her gaze away from his. Electricity hummed between them, so substantial she felt she could reach out and clasp it between her hands.
He propped himself up on his elbow, so that their faces were even. From this distance, she could see the shape of his lips, and she almost reached up to trace her finger around that soft, full outline.
He saw that her gaze had slipped below the line of his eyes, and he whispered her name in response. "Lois…"
She shivered at the sound. Good grief, what was getting into her? This was their thing, their trademark. This is what they did — banter back and forth, flirt a little, laugh about it, all the while knowing that it wouldn't go any farther than a look and a smile. Why should this situation be any different? Lois wracked her brain for a cute and meaningless reply that would get them back on familiar ground, but her mind seemed to know only one word right now.
Even though the sound of his name was breathless on her lips, he jerked his focus from her face, his expression guilty. He backpedaled, moving his body away from her. "God, Lois, I'm sorry. That seriously crossed the line, and especially with you right here… I mean, in the bed and everything… and even though we fell asleep here, I should've woken you up, moved you to the couch or something. And I definitely should *not* have said that. I'm really sorry."
She tried to listen to him. She really did. But all she could hear was the rustle of the bedclothes as he moved away from her, and she wanted to reach out and stop him. Even now, he was still talking, although she had no idea what he was saying. The change in his demeanor and the abrupt shift in his expression had left her feeling dazed. Gone was the slightly dangerous, sexy man who had given her chills when he'd said her name. In his place was her mild-mannered friend and partner, Clark. And right now, she wasn't so sure she liked the change. She wanted to know that other Clark, the one she'd caught just the briefest glimpse of in the last few minutes.
She caught the end of his sentence as he continued to move away. "And we're friends, Lois, I know. We trust each other, and I almost ruined that. I don't want you to think that I…"
She interrupted him without giving it a second thought. "No."
"No?" he asked, and Lois had to smile. Endearingly, sweetly confused Clark. He was probably the most adorable man she'd ever known, both inside and out.
"No," she repeated, her hand reaching out to stop his movement. In response to her touch, he stopped, though he still looked unsure of what was going on.
She looked down at her hand as it lay on his arm. Of its own accord, her hand began to stroke the hard muscle beneath her fingers. She felt like she was dreaming, her voice saying words she'd never speak out loud, her body language communicating with him in a way she'd never thought she would beyond her fantasies. "Clark, did you ever stop to think about what would happen?" she asked softly.
If he was thrown by the question, he didn't show it. She watched him through her lashes; he was barely breathing, as if he thought he'd break the moment with the slightest of movements. Finally, he spoke, slowly, cautious of his word choice. "What would happen if…?" he repeated, seeking clarification.
Maybe it was the darkness that gave her courage. Maybe the closeness of his body had shattered her rational thought processes. Maybe the touch of his skin against her palm begged for so much of her attention that she had none to allocate for logical decisions. Whatever the reason, she continued, knowing she was treading on dangerous ground and changing their relationship with her every spoken word.
"Like right now," she said softly. "What would happen right now if we weren't 'Lois and Clark, partners'? Or even 'Lois and Clark, best friends'?"
It must have hit him where she was going with her question, because his eyes closed, his voice torn between a groan and a note of warning. "Lois, don't…"
She pressed on, despite the protest, unconcerned with the consequences of what she was saying. "What would happen right now if we were just 'Lois and Clark, man and woman'? What would happen then?"
He didn't answer her with words, but it didn't matter. She had her answer when he opened his eyes again and she looked into them, dark with a desire that had always simmered between them, carefully buried until this moment. They watched each other for a long minute. Finally, Lois spoke. "You're right," she said simply, dropping her gaze to his lips. "*This* would happen."
And then she leaned forward, finding his mouth among the shadows. He met her without hesitation, the move surprisingly natural for both of them. The first touches were firm, exploratory, yet the hint of an underlying hunger made her shiver. She could almost feel it pulsing from him, in rhythm with the opening and closing of his lips on hers.
She joined in, the whimper in her throat growing more insistent as he took the kiss deeper. How different this kiss was than any other she'd ever received. She'd never allowed men much room for negotiation in that first kiss; she'd always made sure that she stopped it before it got out of hand… or before it gave the guy the idea that she might want to take it farther. Nope, not much wiggle room at all. At least, that had always been her policy… until now.
But now, with this kiss… it occurred to her that never before had she so fearlessly opened her mouth under a man's and practically begged for a more intimate touch. Never in her entire life had she found herself reaching to connect with more of him, her hands impatiently fluttering their way down his sides, across his hips, up his back. Never before had she pulled her body so close to his that she could feel the rapid beat of his heart and the powerful rise-and-fall of his chest against hers.
This wasn't just any man, though, and her heart and mind knew it. This was Clark to whom she was responding this way, her best friend and someone she trusted with her life.
This was *Clark*.
And instead of frightening her, the thought only made her groan softly against his mouth, while her hands pushed him to lie flat on his back. The end result found her body half-atop his, for their kiss had never broken during the movement.
His hands were also running up and down her back, touching anywhere they could reach, pulling her against him. For a long moment, the only sound in the room was their breathing, steadily growing more hurried and ragged against the silence.
It didn't occur to her to stop, that what they were doing wasn't at all what they should be. The only thought in her mind was how good… how right… how perfect it felt to touch and kiss him like this.
She became aware of his voice as he broke their kiss to nuzzle her neck. She could feel the whisper of her name against her skin as he trailed nibbling kisses down the column of her throat. Her body tingled at his touch, the friction created between them heating every part of her. Somehow, her hands brushed skin, and she realized that his shirt had become bunched up as they'd moved against each other. Immediately, she sought to discover more, pushing the t-shirt upwards and finally over his head.
His broad chest lay bare before her, and she took instant advantage, tracing the muscles she found there with her hands and using her lips in the same manner. He groaned, cupping his hands around her head and threading them through her dark hair.
Within minutes, the sweatshirt she'd been wearing, along with the t-shirt underneath, had been disposed of, lost somewhere among the blankets. She reached down, fumbling with the button of her jeans for the briefest of seconds before he helped her kick those, too, to an unknown location.
This was escalating, burning faster and more out of control with each passing moment. Somewhere in the back of her mind, Lois knew that they should stop, but she couldn't quite bring herself to say the words… not when his hands were undoing the clasp on her bra, and not when they were touching her just like that…
Her breath caught in her throat when he replaced his fingers with his lips, raising goose bumps along her skin and spreading a warmth low across her abdomen. She shivered, realizing that the pleading voice she heard was indeed her own. "Clark, please…"
At the high whine of her voice, he stopped, finding her eyes with his. They stilled together, each suddenly coming to the realization of how far this had gone. He was breathing heavily, beads of sweat clinging to his temples. Her face was flushed, her hair tumbled and lips swollen from the vigorous contact of the past minutes. Their bodies struck an intimate pose together, her legs encircling his hips and their chests pressed against each other's.
Her mind reeled, her eyes growing wide. "Oh, god, Clark."
"Lois." He grabbed at her before she could scramble off him. "Wait."
"Wait? Look at us! One minute we're watching TV and falling asleep, the next minute, we're tearing each other's clothes off and rolling around in bed! And you're telling me to wait?" She rolled away from him then, clasping the blanket to her chest. Her hand chased her t-shirt frantically under the covers, trying to find it. "This wasn't supposed to happen. Oh, god, I'm an idiot. I can't believe we let this happen."
Clark found his shirt first, throwing it on hastily as he tried to reassure her. "Listen, I know things got… a little crazy there…"
"You think they got — where in the world is my shirt? — a *little* crazy? Clark, we both just took the proverbial leap-off-the-cliff, headfirst dive into insanity, and all you can say is that things got a little crazy?" She finally found her shirt, and she turned her back to him as she pulled it on. Heavens knew where her jeans and sweatshirt had gone, and it was just dark enough in the room that she couldn't tell clothes from blankets. She rummaged around some more, looking for them.
Frustrated a minute later, she threw the blanket on the floor. "Will you please help me find my clothes so I can get out of here?"
He'd been sitting on the edge of the bed, watching her. "Don't go."
She looked at him like he had three heads. "What? I'm going home, Clark."
He sighed, and then reached over to stop her movement. She shrugged his hand away, but didn't continue her search.
"Lois, if you go home now, you know what's going to happen? We're going to both spend the rest of the weekend obsessing about this, and then we're going to go into work on Monday, meticulously avoiding each other and the mere mention of tonight. We'll walk on eggshells for the next month and be miserable and barely able to work together, until one day when one of us finally blows up and we hash it out." He took a breath. "And I don't know what you think, but I don't want to go through all that. Do you?"
She sat down again on the bed, clearly upset, rubbing her fingers against her forehead. "No," she finally said. "I don't."
She heard him sigh. "And anyway, it's two o'clock in the morning. I don't want you driving home at this time of night. We're both tired." He stood up. "So give me the blanket, and I'll take the couch tonight. We'll get some sleep, and then tomorrow, when we're thinking more clearly, we can talk. Okay?"
Lois wasn't convinced as she looked down at the bed, where so much had transpired between them and their entire relationship had just taken an unbelievable turn. But Clark was right; it was late, and he had a point about what would happen if they didn't talk about this. She hated that he was right, that he knew her behavioral patterns so well. "Fine," she said, picking up the blanket from the floor and tossing it in his direction.
He caught it. "So I'll see you in morning, okay?"
He seemed to understand that he wasn't going to get much more out of her tonight, so he turned and headed in the direction of the living room, leaving Lois alone. She sat there on the bed for quite some time before she finally pulled the sheets back and slipped under the covers.
It was a long time before either one of them slept.
Lois woke slowly, nudging her head against the soft pillow before snuggling down again. Her first thought was that she was quite glad that it was Saturday. Getting up late and having breakfast at Clark's was always a wonderful way to start her weekend. Besides, more than once, weekday visits to his apartment had resulted in her having to call into work to explain that she was going to be late again because she'd fallen asleep at her best friend's apartment.
And she really hated that tone in Perry's voice, that one that meant he was hiding one of those knowing smiles behind that tough editor exterior. It annoyed her. Really, was it *that* unheard of for a man and a woman to spend the night together and not have it involve sex?
Of course, last night was the first night where it almost *had.* She groaned at the reminder, flopping her head even farther down into the pillow as the memories of what had happened filled her mind. Oh god, last night. How in the world were they ever going to handle this? Their friendship was as good as gone. She should have never come over. She should have never suggested they watch the movie in his bedroom — and on his bed, even! She should have never spent the night. What she should have done was climbed out of bed and gone home as soon as she'd woken up last night, even if it had been close to two in the morning.
But oh, no. She had to tease him, test him, flirt with him. What in the world had gotten into her? And just what had gotten into him? Whatever she may have done to initiate… that … he certainly hadn't needed any prodding to respond to her. In fact, she quite vividly remembered him taking the lead several times.
And on that note, who would have thought that her mild-mannered partner could be so… passionate? That he could make her feel so… amazing?
Lois stopped that train of thought immediately. She needed to keep a clear head this morning if they had any hope of salvaging what was left of their close friendship. So instead of covering her head with the blanket like she wanted to, she stretched and slipped out from under the covers. Her jeans lay on the floor beside the bed, and she reached down, lifting them and trying desperately not to think about just how they had ended up sprawled against the hardwood.
She took a deep breath after she'd pulled on the jeans, running her fingers through her tangled hair and exhaling slowly. It was an action meant to fortify her for the morning ahead. Once, and then again, and this time when she inhaled, the wonderful smell of bacon and eggs filled her nose.
Clark had been up for a while, it seemed, and breakfast was only moments away. She heard him moving around in the kitchen, the clatter of pans and plates accompanying him. Any minute now, he would probably wander in to the bedroom to announce that the food was ready.
Well, he wasn't going to find her sitting on the bed, that was for sure. She took off for the bathroom at a near run — which probably hadn't been a good idea, she realized just a second later when she practically tripped over her own bra. Like one of those booby-traps in the Road Runner cartoons she used to watch as a kid, it was laying there, one strap wrapped around the lowest knob on Clark's dresser while the other strap lay in a loop on the floor, ready to ambush her ankle as she bolted passed. For a second, her mind created a ridiculous vision of her being snapped up by the leg and then having Clark come in to find her hanging upside-down beside his dresser.
Luckily, like the Road Runner, she narrowly escaped, skidding forward on the scrap of white lace before regaining her balance. "Oh, good grief," she muttered viciously as she reached down, snatched the offending item from the floor, and continued fleeing to the bathroom. She needed to get out of his bedroom, the faster the better. This was going to be one heck of a morning.
She was so intent on her escape, she didn't hear Clark's voice calling from the kitchen.
"Hey, are you okay?" He poked his head into the bedroom just in time to see a flash of her dark hair before it disappeared. In answer to his question, the bathroom door slammed shut. Clark tried once more. "Lois? Everything okay?" This time, silence, and then the sound of running water.
Clark shook his head, turning his attention back to breakfast. He had known this was going to be a rough morning, even before he'd heard her wake up, groan into her pillow, and then high-tail it to the bathroom. In fact, he'd thought about it all night as he'd lain on the couch, eyes wide and mind racing. His brain had insisted on centering on Lois, replaying that first kiss, that first touch, and every other touch after that.
He'd thought about their encounter as he'd gotten up this morning, as he'd dressed, and as he'd begun to prepare breakfast.
But for all his incessant obsessing, he still hadn't the slightest clue how he was going to handle seeing her this morning. He didn't know what he was going to say. He didn't know how he was going to act. What was the correct thing to do, anyway? Give her space? Apologize? Tell her he loved her? Act like nothing happened?
Just what was the protocol for the morning after you almost slept with your best friend?
It was quite possible there was no right answer. He was doomed. There was no way this was going to turn out well.
With a sigh, he finished flipping the bacon and transferred it to the plate. He was still contemplating the first thing he should say to her when he heard a small voice. He turned, plate in hand.
She was standing in the archway, clad in her sweatshirt and blue jeans from the night before. "Morning," she said quietly.
"Hey," he replied. For a moment, he just looked at her, panicking because that was all he had. Just 'hey'. Now what? She didn't seem to be in a hurry to offer anything else to the conversation, and he was drawing a complete blank. What a way to start the day. Superman, reduced to a bumbling, nervous wreck. The criminal element of Metropolis would laugh itself silly if they could see him now.
After a silence that bordered on forever, he remembered the plate of bacon in his hand. Gratefully, he held it up. "Hungry?"
For a moment, she looked as if she might say no, make an excuse, and then dash for the door. She closed her eyes for just a second, then nodded and pulled out a chair. "Yeah. Breakfast looks good. Thank you."
"No problem." He felt himself almost sigh in relief when she actually sat down at the table. At least she hadn't taken one look at him and run screaming for the door — he'd been readying himself for a scene just like that. He set the plate down on the table and then his eyes met hers.
Almost immediately, she looked away.
He cleared his throat. "So… you want coffee?"
He moved to pour it for her, thankful for the excuse to do *something* instead of just stand there like a mindless idiot. He didn't fill her cup all the way, leaving a little room so that he could add a touch of vanilla-caramel flavored cream to the decaf liquid. It made it sweeter than she normally drank it, but for some reason, he thought she'd need the extra shot-in-the-arm today. Setting the creamer down on the counter, Clark realized with a start that his hand was shaking slightly.
Maybe Lois wasn't the only one who needed a little stabilizing this morning.
"Here you go," he said when he was finished, trying to make his voice sound normal. Trying to remember that this was just Lois, that they'd had breakfast together countless times before, that he could do this and not make a mess of it. "Watch, it's hot."
"Thanks." She took the cup and set it down on the table.
They each went about filling their plates with eggs and bacon, and Clark poured himself a cup of coffee. A large sigh escaped him as he sat down. It seemed he'd worried all that time about what he was going to say to her for nothing; it didn't look like there was going to be much talking at this breakfast table. He crunched down on a piece of bacon, wondering if she could hear him chewing on it from where she was sitting.
Surprisingly, Lois was the first one to break the silence. "You know, Clark, I was thinking."
He gave her a grin over his coffee cup. "Uh-oh." It was an attempt at humor, an attempt to bring them back to the comfortable place they'd always known, but it failed miserably.
She smiled, but it was tight, and she quickly admonished him. "This was… serious thinking," she said, and she picked up the morning newspaper that he had laid on the corner of the table.
"Right." His smile faded. "What were you thinking about?" He had a pretty good idea, but he wanted her to bring it up on her terms. Maybe it would make her feel more comfortable.
She fiddled with the corner of the paper, concentrating her gaze on it. "Just… things."
A smile flashed across her face as he repeated the same question she had asked him last night. "Seems we've both been doing that a lot lately."
"I guess we have. So did you come to any conclusions?"
"I don't know. More questions than answers, I think." It seemed to him that she was being deliberately vague, and Clark had no idea what she was thinking. But she was talking to him, so that was good, and he wanted her to continue. Lois did eventually get to the point, though it often took some time to get there. This morning, he was willing to wait. He sat back, watching her, waiting for her to voice her thoughts.
This time, though, he didn't have to wait too long.
"Clark, do you think we're too close?" she blurted out.
She was sure that her question wasn't what he had expected to hear. In fact, it wasn't even what she'd been planning to say, but the words had chosen themselves before she could stop them.
It was a question that had been on her mind for weeks now, but it had popped to the forefront again with the events of the previous night. She hadn't been able to get it out of her mind as she'd stood in the bathroom this morning, readying herself to face him.
"What?" Clark looked surprised at her question, too, and so she repeated it, this time with some clarification.
"You and me — are we too close? You know, too close for a man and woman who are just friends. I mean, look at it like this." She ticked off her points on her fingers as she made them. "I sleep at your apartment, you make me breakfast, we work together, we spend time together just watching movies and talking about the day.
"And then there's …" she trailed off, the words 'last night' dying on her lips. She couldn't quite bring herself to say it just yet — not before they'd finished their first cup of coffee, anyway. "I mean, don't you think that's too close? Do you know what people say about us?"
Clark took a bite of his eggs and chewed thoughtfully. "Who cares what other people say? I think it depends on the relationship and the people involved. If they're comfortable with what happens between them, I don't think it should matter what other people think."
When he said it, it seemed so cut and dry, so black and white. She had a feeling, though, that if she dug deep enough, she'd find some shades of gray in his logic. It was this thought that prompted her next question. "So you're saying that you're completely comfortable with everything that happens between us?"
"I asked you first." She looked at him expectantly.
"Fine." He stopped and picked up his coffee, his gaze seemingly lost in the dark liquid that swirled inside the mug as he gently rocked it back and forth. His answer was short, considering the amount of thought he had given it. "Yeah, I am."
His long pause had given her the answer far before he'd made a statement in words. She knew that he was purposefully ignoring the events of last night, and she found herself now wanting to talk about it, contrary to her previous attitude. Since when had she needed coffee to give her courage, anyway?
"So you're comfortable with everything? Even last night?" There, she'd said it, thrown it out there, and now they were going to have to deal with it.
Finally, he sighed, setting the coffee cup down without taking a sip and cupping his hands around its warm sides. "All right, fine. No, not always. And when it comes to last night… well, that's something we need to talk about. There are things you need to know."
The man had such a knack for stating the obvious. She decided not to comment, and instead kicked into reporter mode in order to get more information from him. "Care to elaborate?" It was safer that way, anyway. She needed to distance herself from the fact that when he'd said the words 'last night,' her entire body had immediately flushed, submerged in the memory of the brush of his hands against her skin and the heat of his lips on her neck. She crossed her legs under the table, fighting the urge to fidget in her chair and trying to concentrate on what he was saying.
"Well, it's a little difficult to explain." He shifted, looking as if he'd rather be anywhere but sitting across from her. "Am I comfortable with everything that happens in our relationship?
Yeah, I am, for the most part. I *am* comfortable with you, Lois, more than I have been with anyone in my entire life. I can talk to you, laugh with you, share things with you. That's important to me."
She nodded her agreement. "To me, too." That was one of her favorite parts about her relationship with Clark. She'd never had anyone she could do those things with before he came into her life. She'd never had a best friend.
He continued. "And I'll be honest with you, Lois. There's a part of me that was comfortable with what happened last night, too. You and I together… like that… felt natural to me. You're so close to me in so many other ways, it just felt right to have you close to me in that way, too." His voice was soft, and reminded her of the way he had sounded as he'd whispered her name and kissed her.
The flush that had infused her body earlier grew, deepening until it stained her cheeks pink. "I know," she whispered, unable to believe that she was actually daring to say the words out loud. But she knew that he was telling her the truth, and she felt she owed him the same degree of honesty.
He looked shocked at her admission, and whatever he had been about to say died on his lips. "Really?"
"Yeah, really," she reiterated. Then she put her head in her hands. "And it's going to kill our friendship."
She heard him move, and when she removed her hands to look at him, he had crouched down beside her chair. "But that's just it," he said. "I don't think that it has to ruin our friendship. I think the only way it ruins what we already have is if we let it."
Her eyes were skeptical as she looked into his unwavering ones.
There was some nervousness lurking deep within, she could see, but overall, his demeanor was confident, almost as if he really believed that they could survive this. "But, Clark, men and women who are just friends don't do the things we were doing last night. And if they do, there are words for it, and I think most people would agree that they aren't nice terms."
"I know." He was quick to assure her. He opened his mouth and then closed it again, almost as if debating what he was going to say next. Finally, the words emerged from him, quick, like ripping a bandage from a wound. "But what would you think if I said that maybe there was more to our relationship than just friendship?"
She couldn't cover the startled gasp that escaped her lips, nor the surprise that leapt in her eyes. It was one thing to think it, to fantasize about it, but another matter entirely to actually say the words out loud. "What?"
"Come here," he said, and grabbed her hand, leading them both toward the couch in the living room. Dumbly, Lois followed his lead, leaving their breakfast cold and forgotten behind them.
He settled them next to each other, and Lois noticed that he didn't relinquish his hold on her hand. She didn't pull it away, either. When he began talking, she detected a slight tremor in his voice that hadn't been there before. "I know how it might sound right now, but just hear me out, okay? We've gone this far; we might as well get everything out in the open."
For a woman whose job it was to 'get everything out in the open' every day, she found herself tentative to apply the same tactic to her personal life. Still, she nodded and licked her suddenly dry lips. "Okay."
"Right. So here goes." He took a deep breath, glancing down at their entwined hands, almost as if that sight alone gave him the courage to go on. "Look, I love how close we've been over the last few months. I love the way you curl up next to me when we watch movies. I love when we fall asleep together, like last night, because I love holding you during the night. I love being with you…" He finally raised his eyes to meet hers. "… because I love *you*, Lois. I mean, this might not be the best way to say it, or the most romantic, but… I'm in love with you," he finished softly.
His words seemed to float around her, like she was reaching for them, but couldn't grasp what he was saying. She stared at him. He was *in love* with her? Her partner, her best friend, loved her?
He took advantage of her silence, continuing. "And it was probably selfish of me, Lois, because you trusted me. In all those times, we were best friends, and in all those times, I wished for more between us. And I never told you … before now. I'm sorry. And maybe you were right. Maybe this conversation will wreck our friendship beyond repair, but I want you to know how I feel about you."
"You love me?" she whispered. He nodded in response, and she found herself watching him through dazed eyes. But then another thought struck her, quickly sharpening her senses again. "This isn't just stemming from last night, is it? What almost happened… I mean, it's going to change our friendship, but I don't think we have to start confessing love here."
"No." His answer was rough and quick, the tone in his voice definitive. "This is not just about last night. I've felt this way about you for so long, but I just never…"
"… wanted to risk our friendship," she finished for him. She paused, and then sighed. "I know." He had been right. They had gone this far; they might as well get it all out in the open. She wrapped her fingers tighter around his, needing that strength. He'd laid his heart bare before her; now it was her turn to do the same. It would have been so easy to run away from this situation, but Lois knew that if she did, she would regret it for the rest of her life. "I know, Clark, because I felt the same way."
His body stilled, like her words had frozen him to the spot. "You did?"
She nodded. "I guess it seems silly now… there were so many times when I buried those feelings for you, thinking that if they ever came to the surface, I would lose you — that we'd try, find out that we weren't right for each other, and then never speak to each other again. I couldn't stand the thought of that happening to us. Thinking like that made it easier to run." She shrugged. "Even when my heart was telling me differently."
"So what is your heart telling you now?" he asked carefully.
She considered, taking stock of the man that sat beside her, her eyes traveling over his face. "It's telling me that I should listen to it for once in my life, because I might never get this chance again." She smiled. "It's telling me that I'm the luckiest person in the world because my partner, who is one of the best reporters in the city, and my best friend, who is the kindest person I've ever known, and the man whose kisses have the power to drive me to complete distraction, are miraculously the same person."
She paused, wanting him to hear these next words loud and clear. "And it's telling me that I should never, ever let him go." Saying it, Lois marveled at how easy it had been to tell him how she felt. Not scary at all, and actually, quite liberating.
He blushed at her praise, and his smile lit his whole face. Lois smiled back, knowing that whatever might come of their relationship, this had been the right decision for her — for them. Slowly, she let go of his hand, letting her fingers trail lightly over his arm.
"So this is it, then?" Clark asked her. "It's just you and me…against the world?"
"Sounds like it," she agreed, and her cheeks were beginning to hurt from smiling so widely. She reached for him, sealing the deal with a gentle brush of their lips. "Thank you," she whispered. She wasn't sure what exactly she was thanking him for: for being her partner, for being her best friend, for loving her, for not letting her run away when that was all she'd wanted to do last night. It was for all those things and more.
He looked as if he were savoring her kiss and her words, his eyes still closed. When he opened them again, he had that impish grin back on his face, the one she was so accustomed to seeing from him. "So are you still hungry?" he asked. "We didn't have a chance to finish breakfast."
"Not really," she answered, and her smile turned playful to match his.
"Want to watch T.V.?"
"Huh-uh." She shook her head.
"Hmm." Clark pretended to consider other options. "Well, then what do you want to do now? You know, now that we're 'Lois and Clark, partners' as well as 'Lois and Clark, best friends' and, in a most interesting development," he grinned as he referenced her seducing words from the night before, "'Lois and Clark, man and woman'?"
Caught up in the moment, she regarded him with a mischievous glint in her eye. "I don't know," she teased back. "But I certainly hope that I don't need to draw you a diagram."
He chuckled and reached for her. "Well, if I make a wrong turn, I'm sure you'll let me know. But I'm willing to bet we can start here." He brought the tip of his index finger up to trace her bottom lip lightly, eliciting a shiver of anticipation from her. How could she have ignored the feelings this man stirred in her for so long? They were powerful and insistent, and every moment she spent around him made them harder to control.
Speaking of which, they still hadn't truly dug deeply into the events of last night, and then with the way this conversation was going… something was nagging at her, and despite her provocative comment to him, she couldn't let him sweep her away just yet.
She stopped him by catching his finger with her hand, the playfulness in her voice diminished just a little. "But Clark…can we keep it just there for right now? I don't want to seem like I don't want to — well, you know… but it's just that last night happened so fast, and we —"
"Lois." He interrupted her, seeming to already know what she was going to say. "You don't have to worry. I know. And truth is, I was thinking the same thing."
"Oh," she whispered, loving him even more for understanding her, for understanding them. There was no need to push. They would have plenty of time later to talk and to make decisions. But for right now…
They smiled at each other, hearts full. Then he leaned down, replacing his finger and taking her lips in a soft, sweet kiss, lovingly caressing her mouth until she sighed against him and surrendered to his touch.
It was a kiss between partners, special even more so because of what they already shared. And it was a kiss between best friends, one which blended friendship and love into the promise of a delicate and beautiful new relationship.
Tracey <email@example.com> Nov. 2005