By LaraMoon <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Submitted: July 2007
Summary: A challenge lost leads to a date and words of love subtly whispered in the dark.
This is a 'reward' fic that I wrote for someone. Not saying who or why — they know and that's sufficient.
The original request was this:
How about… L&C's second date? *g* We got the almost first date and the first date… but we never did get the second one, did we? It must include dancing, because our poor OTP never got to dance much!
I've tried to give you what you asked for: there's a date and there's dancing. But… I hope you'll forgive me for taking a little creative liberty with your request.
Thanks to my GE, Larissa, who kindly pointed out the few places where I'd messed up. :) However, I had no beta reader for this, so I'm the only one to blame for the whole thing.
Note that there are a few sentences in a language that I do not speak in this story — I've transcribed them from a reliable source, but please forgive any typos or errors that may have made their way into these.
Lois had spent most of the evening going around the banquet hall in what had to be the world's most uncomfortable high heel shoes, in the hopes of gathering any sort of information that might be usable for… something. Anything! But she'd had no such luck so far. She was tired, her feet were literally killing her and, worst of all, she was going to have to admit that she'd been wrong about being able to leave this place with a nice, juicy exclusive.
Perry had assigned her to cover this silly Gala event and no matter how hard she'd argued that it would be a better choice to send the gossip columnist, the editor just would not change his mind. Things had gone from bad to worse from there… Clark had teased her about being stuck with the assignment and, adamant that there wasn't a Gala on earth that she could go to and not come back with some sort of scoop, Lois had had the very bad idea to turn this into a wager. Which ever of the two was able to collect the most interesting piece of news by the end of the evening would win.
So here they were, both on the hunt for the best nugget of information possible, and it was now plainly obvious to Lois that she was going to lose. There was nothing here to report about. People weren't even discussing anything more than the weather or the last book they'd read. And while she might be tempted to argue that the topic of comma use in modern literature would make an interesting piece, she knew that Clark would just laugh and force her to admit defeat.
Perhaps people were just being careful when she was around, she thought. Or maybe these rich folk were really completely uninteresting. Either way, Lois Lane was staring defeat right in the eyes and she didn't like the look it gave her back. Then again, perhaps Clark had been just as unsuccessful as she had? That would make it a draw, wouldn't it?
"How's it going?" he asked, when she came back to their table to sit for a few minutes and get a sip of wine.
"Great, great," she replied, unconvincingly. "I'm this close to something really big."
"That bad, huh?" Clark chuckled. "I don't have anything either."
There was no point arguing with him, she knew. He could read her better than anyone. "How about we get out of here?" she asked, hopeful. She'd seen quite enough of these people for one night!
"Admitting defeat already?" he teased. She was about to protest, but he didn't let her. "We can't leave yet anyway."
"Why not? You still hoping to win a door prize?"
"Well, that, sure." He smiled. "And… You promised me a dance, in case you've forgotten."
She hadn't forgotten at all. But she hoped maybe he had… Not that she didn't want to dance with him — as a matter of fact, the prospect was very appealing — but her feet hurt and she really just wanted to go home, take these stupid shoes off and… eat ice cream while she contemplated the fact that she'd lost their bet.
Lois thought about asking for a rain check, arguing that her feet hurt too much, but she decided not to. One dance wouldn't kill her, after all. If it had been anyone else, she wouldn't have had any second thoughts about refusing, but dancing with Clark, well… it would definitely be worth a few more blisters on her feet.
Soon, they found themselves on the dance floor and, for the first time this evening, Lois stopped obsessing over the lack of information she had collected and this silly wager she was going to lose. For just a few minutes, she let herself relax in her partner's arms. And while the song lasted, she allowed herself the luxury to think of nothing other than the simple pleasure it brought her to dance with him. To be held by him. There wasn't any place else on earth where she felt so safe, so content, even.
"So we're both losers, I guess, then?" she asked, her thoughts having veered back to their bet as a new song started. She hoped that he'd agree. It didn't hurt as much to lose when nobody won…
"I'm definitely not a loser," Clark replied.
Lois shot him a questioning look. How did he figure that? He'd just admitted that he didn't have anything? "But you said…?"
"Oh, I haven't gotten any more information than you have. But the way I see it, I can't possibly be a loser. You're dancing with me, after all."
Lois's expression softened. Clark was definitely no loser. Not in that sense of the word, anyway. Absolutely not. She blushed, trying to push back the images that had started creeping up in her head of him wearing nothing but a towel… And he was such a wonderful dancer, too — it was like dancing on a cloud; she could barely even feel any of the pain her shoes had caused her all evening.
"Lack of things to write about put aside, this isn't such a bad evening, is it?" he asked. The band was certainly great. And the food had been delicious to say the least. If they hadn't spent the evening trying to prove which of them was the better reporter, they might even have enjoyed themselves tonight.
"Dinner, dancing… it's almost like an actual date. We'll have to do it again, sometime."
Clark raised an eyebrow. "Are you saying you'd go out with me again?"
"Were you planning on asking me?" Lois answered, with what she hoped would look like a teasing smile. Ever since Mayson's death, Clark had been very distant and she had started to lose hope that he'd ever ask her out again. Perhaps this wasn't the right way to find out, but it was worth a shot. She held her breath waiting for his answer, afraid that it wouldn't come out the way she wanted it to.
"Absolutely," he told her softly, a smile on his lips and a sparkle in his eyes.
Lois breathed a small sigh of relief. She had to fight back the urge to lean in and kiss him right then and there. Not that she thought he'd protest or anything, but they were in public and she didn't exactly want a picture of them — lip-locked on the dance floor — to end up in the social events pages of a competing newspaper.
"As soon as I find out where I'm taking you," Clark added, bringing her out of her reverie. He pointed towards the stage where, sure enough, they were setting up for the draw.
"Wow. I never pictured you as being a cheap date." Lois giggled. "Well, if you're going to take me to whatever door prize you win, I hope it's the second prize."
"Second? Since when are you not interested in the grand prize?"
"Since I like the second one better," she explained, shrugging.
"Baseball tickets?" Clark asked, still slightly taken aback. "I didn't know you liked baseball?"
"Sure I do," she answered, unconvinced.
"No you don't!" He was certain she was putting him on. But why?
"Well, maybe not that much," Lois conceded. "But you do! Aren't the Monarchs your favorite team?"
"Well, yes… But if I was going to take you anywhere, a baseball game wouldn't be my first choice."
"The opera, on the other hand —"
"I know," she interrupted. Deciding that the dance and the conversation were over, she let go of him and started heading back to their table.
She walked back to the table without looking back.
"Lois? What's wrong?" Clark asked, concerned, as he sat down beside her.
"Nothing," she lied, hoping that he'd know that this meant he should drop the subject. She wasn't up to discussing it. Not tonight…
"Come on, I know you're upset about something," he countered. "Is it something I did?" He frowned. If it was, he couldn't figure out what, so it had to be something else, he was fairly certain.
"No, no. It's nothing. Really," Lois insisted.
She had a sad, almost hurt, look in her eyes that just about broke Clark's heart. There was nothing in the world he hated more than seeing her like this. There were times, in fact, when he would have given away all his powers in exchange for her never to be hurt again — physically or emotionally.
"Lois… Whatever's wrong, you know you can tell me," Clark told her, placing a hand on her arm in a comforting gesture. "I'm right here for you."
Lois sighed and looked down. This was one of the things she loved most about him, really. She could always count on him to be there when she needed him. OK, so maybe sometimes he disappeared right in the middle of a conversation, but whenever she needed a shoulder to cry on or a strong arm to lean against, there wasn't anyone else she knew who she would rather turn to than Clark Kent.
Looking up from where his hand rested on her arm, she saw the encouraging look in his face. Maybe talking about it might help dispel the memory, she thought. "Oh, it's just that the first — and last — opera I've ever been to was…" Lois closed her eyes for a second and took a deep breath before going on, "Last year. With… um, with Lex."
"I'm sorry," Clark said, not really knowing what the right thing to say was. "But I'm a much better date," he then added, hoping that a bit of humor might bring a smile back to her face.
Lois refrained from saying that, considering the sort of monster Lex Luthor was, even Dr. Jekyll would have made a better date. But that would probably have hurt Clark's feelings and he was just trying to be nice, she knew, not make her feel worse for having gone out with — and almost marrying — one of the world's most devious criminals since Al Capone.
"That you are." She smiled at him and patted his hand affectionately. "That you are."
"Come on, Lois, it's not so bad!" Clark said as they walked back to her Jeep. "I promise we'll have a good time!"
"We? Who says I'm taking you?" she answered, matter-of-factly. She didn't want to take him or anyone else to that stupid opera. She didn't even want to go, herself. Of all the times when winning first prize wasn't what she wanted, they had had to pull out her ticket! This Gala event was definitely an evening to be forgotten.
"You lost our bet."
"But you didn't win," she countered.
"Actually…" he started, giving her an apologetic look. "Remember that story about the misuse of public funds by city officials? Well, I just spoke with Josh Hewitt and he told me that —"
"What?" Lois cut him off. She was shocked! She'd made Hewitt her prime target for the evening — he was the one person there who was most likely to have something to say that was worth writing about. But he'd repeatedly told her that he had nothing to say. "He told me he had no comment and no idea and… But you got him to talk?"
"Yep. And I got us what could turn out to be a great story, partner."
Lois shot him an inquisitive look. "Us? This is your story, not ours."
"Well, I wouldn't have been here if it wasn't for you, so I think this makes it ours," Clark explained.
"And that's what you want for winning? You really want to see that opera?" Lois sighed, dejectedly. They'd argued so much about what the winner should get that they had finally agreed that who ever did win would get to ask the other for "anything" they wanted — within reason, of course. She should have known this was going to come back and bite her in the a**.
"Sure. Why not?" They had reached the Jeep and Lois turned towards him, giving him an unconvinced look. "Come on," Clark pleaded, "I'm sure I can turn this into an evening to remember."
She wanted to believe him. She really did, but this brought back so many unpleasant memories and she so badly wanted to forget Lex Luthor. She'd been on her way to doing just that in fact, until he had come back from the dead. She shuddered at the thought. How could she have been such a bad judge of character? Was it all it took to fool her, one charming smile?
"Lois?" Clark asked, seeing as she'd gotten lost in her thoughts. "He can't hurt you anymore," he added, knowing this was probably where her mind was at. "Even if he wasn't in jail for the rest of eternity, I promise I wouldn't let him hurt you ever again."
Feeling somewhat overwhelmed by the turn this discussion had taken, Lois tried to change the subject back to something she could more easily handle.
"So what's it called?" she asked, pulling the tickets out of her purse. "Il bar… beer die —"
"Il barbiere di Seviglia," Clark said in Italian, without so much as a hint of an accent. "The barber of Seville."
Lois tried to repeat after him, but stopped when she realized he was about to start laughing at her efforts. "Never heard of it," she told him.
"Sure you have. Figaro," Clark explained before launching into the first few notes of an aria he was certain she would recognize.
Lois giggled softly. Clark's singing was way out of tune, but somehow she had managed to identify the song anyway. She hummed a few notes of it herself. "Is that it? Yeah, I remember that from Bugs Bunny."
"Ah, the things you learn from watching Saturday morning cartoons!" He laughed.
"So, it's the story of a barber?" she asked. "And what, they sing about hairdos?"
"Actually…" he started, before the irony dawned on him. "It's a love story between a count and a young woman. Figaro merely helps the count get closer to her," Clark explained, leaving out the fact that the count starts off by assuming another identity in order to make sure that the young woman would love him for himself and not his money or his title.
"So, you've seen it before?" Lois asked. "This opera?"
"I saw it in Milan a few years ago," he admitted. It had cost him every last lira he had to be able to attend the representation at La Scala, but it had been worth every one. This was still a much cherished memory of the time he had spent in Italy.
"That must have been wonderful." She sighed, trying to imagine what Italy was like as she got in the Jeep.
"It was," he agreed, going around the Jeep and getting in himself. But this time is going to be even more memorable, his mind added silently.
Lois sighed in annoyance and shifted in her seat, trying to cock her head to the side so she would be able to see the supertitles and follow the story.
"What's wrong?" Clark whispered to her.
"You'd think considering the price they ask for these box seats they would have made sure people could read the translations!" she told him, whispering at first, but her voice getting louder as she spoke.
"I can translate for you," he offered.
She turned to look at him, a grateful smile on her lips. He smiled back and nodded.
"You really are a much better date," she whispered in his ear, snuggling up to him so she would be able to hear without him needing to speak up. She probably wouldn't have needed that as an excuse to do so, but she was glad to have one, nonetheless.
"I'm glad you think so," he told her.
The statement sent butterflies fluttering through her stomach. It was silly, probably. All he'd said was that he was glad she appreciated his company, but the fact that it mattered to him made her feel special and appreciated as well.
<Il nome mio non le vo' dir ne il grado: assicurarmi vo' pria ch'ella ami me, me solo al mondo, non le ricchezze e i titoli del Conte Almaviva.>
"The count is telling Figaro that he doesn't want Rosina to know who he really is. He wants to be sure that she loves him and not the wealth and titles of Count Almaviva," Clark explained.
"He starts lying to her before he even knows her?" Lois asked, surprised. "Why would he do that?"
Clark gulped, a surge of guilt running through him at the thought that he was doing something quite similar with Lois. "Wouldn't you like to find someone who would love you for the real you — not for whatever power you have?" He was fairly certain he knew the answer to this. She had told him once, even though she didn't know she was telling him and although the circumstances had made the statement hard to hear and that it still stung a little to think about it, he was just about convinced that she'd meant every word.
"Of course," she said. "But he shouldn't lie to her. He should tell her the truth."
"He will," he answered, making it a promise that he, too, would eventually tell the truth about who he really was.
He kept on translating as the performers sang. Every once in a while, Lois almost forgot where she was, lost in the music and Clark's soft whispers in her ear. This really was shaping up to be an evening to remember, she thought, smiling to herself.
<Egli attende qualche segno, poverin, del vostro affetto.>
"He is awaiting some sign, poor man, of your affection."
The words weren't directed at her, Lois knew, but she reacted to them by lacing her fingers with his, without really realizing she was doing it. She felt Clark's fingers tighten around hers as if telling her he'd understood what she'd meant to say.
<Ah, tu solo, amor, tu sei che mi devi consolar.>
"You alone, my love, can soothe my heart."
Lois closed her eyes. My love. A long shiver ran through her spine. For a second, she let herself imagine that there was no opera and that Clark wasn't simply translating. Her heart started racing and every little thing started making her head spin: his breath on her cheek, the feel of his body so close to hers, the smell of his aftershave, the soft sound of his voice. She turned her head and looked up at him. Her breath caught as she saw the expression in his eyes — was that love she saw in those dark chocolate pools?
Then the song ended, the crowd started applauding and the moment was lost. Cheeks reddening, Lois turned her attention back to the stage.
<Cento smanie io sento addosso, ah, piu reggere non so.>
"I am consumed by so many emotions, all that I feel for you." It barely resembled what the words meant, but Clark had lost track of the story. He'd simply started adlibbing the words, substituting the libretto with all these words he'd been aching to say out loud to her. The opera was now merely a backdrop to the sounds of Lois's heart, singing melodiously for only him to hear. Lost in its music, he forgot all about his surroundings. A small nudge from Lois brought him back to reality and he started, once more, to tell her what they were singing about, until a few minutes later, when the intermission came.
"Thank you for the translation services," Lois told him, as the lights came up. "It's sweet of you to do."
"I take it you're not having such a bad evening, after all?"
"I'm glad you insisted so much." She smiled. "He will tell her who he really is, won't he?" she asked after a moment's reflection.
"Yeah, he does."
"And she'll be mad at him and turn to Figaro instead, is that it?" Lois wondered, trying to figure out how the story continued.
"Turn to Figaro? No… Why?"
"To Bartolo, then? Or someone else?"
"Hey, I'm not going to tell you how it ends," Clark protested.
"Well, I've missed some of it because you've been spacing out so I was just asking, you know… in case you forget to tell me what's going on later."
"Oh," he said, embarrassed. "I'm sorry. It's just hard to understand them really well when they're all singing different words all at the same time." That was a bad lie, but what else was he supposed to say? That he'd taken the opportunity to pour his heart out to her? He had a feeling that wouldn't sit too well with Lois, for some reason.
"Hang on, I know." Lois took out the program from her purse and started flipping through it, looking for the pages where she remembered having seen a summary of the plot.
Clark kept unusually quiet as she read through the story.
"She forgives him?" she said, surprised. "Well obviously this summary is missing a few key details. She's got to be mad at him, for sure."
"Well… this is Rosina, not Lois Lane," he offered. "And she loves him, I guess. Wouldn't you forgive someone you love for a few little white lies? "
"It depends." She shrugged.
"Oh?" Clark asked, his heart caught in his throat. What if she never forgave him? He didn't want to have to envision life without her. No matter what sort of relationship they had now or in the future, anything was better than the prospect of her being so angry with him that she'd never speak to him again.
"I don't know. Would you forgive me if you knew I'd lied to you?"
Of course he would, he thought. He would and he had before, too. Heck, he'd even forgiven her for breaking his heart — twice, in the same day — and running off to marry Lex Luthor. There wasn't a whole lot that she could do that he wouldn't forgive.
"Clark?" she asked, seeing that he was miles away.
"Oh… um. Lois? There's something I need to tell you…"
Bottom Dweller's Notes:
Forgive me, but I have a lot to say…
With one noted exception, Clark translates the libretto rather accurately. Actual translation of the lyrics can be found here in PDF format:
Had he been translating properly, this "Cento smanie io sento addosso, ah, piu reggere non so" would have turned into "A hundred emotions burn within me, I can no longer control myself." Instead of what he does say: "I am consumed by so many emotions, all that I feel for you."
For information about Il barbiere di Seviglia, see this entry in Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Barber_of_Seville
There are two episodes of Bugs Bunny in which you can hear the famous "Largo al factotum": Rabbit of Seville and Long-Haired Hare. Both are definitely worth watching! :)
If you've ever been to the opera, you might have noticed they usually have what's called "surtitles" or "supertitles" where they should a translation of the libretto, so that people understand what the performers are singing about. I know for a fact that there are places where you'll sit in an opera house and not be able to view them — I've been in one and I clearly remember one lady complaining about it all evening even though her ticket had been clearly labeled. Anyway… back in the '90s the systems they were most likely to have would have been a screen above the stage where the translation could be projected (as opposed to something like "Met Titles" which they've had at the Metropolitan in NYC since 1995/96 where an electronic screen is embedded in the seat in front of you.) I almost made it so they didn't even have any, but even though it's quite probable, I was having a hard time finding facts to support this theory, so I went with the next best thing: Lois just can't see them.
Anyone who knows me a little is probably aware of the fact that I take my dad to the opera, here in Montreal, every once in a while. Every time I do — and even that time in Paris, with my mom — I sit there and my mind is flooded with images and ideas for L&C fic. I'm not joking… I literally see Lois being so moved that she rests her head on Clark's shoulder… and I awww. Really, I do. Now, I've tried and tried and tried to get these ideas into a story, but always failed. One of those failures turned into All Weathered Out, in fact — there isn't even any mention of the opera in there!! *lol* I'm glad I finally found a way to turn some of these ideas into a story and I really hope I didn't make too much of a mess of it.