By EditorJax <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Submitted: February 2008
Summary: When Clark invites Lois to a college basketball game, is it any surprise that sports bring out her competitive side? But this time, there's more on the line than just the score.
She could feel his eyes on her.
Lois Lane looked up from her work to see Clark Kent fidgeting with a pen, his coffee-colored eyes trained on her as she typed her portion of their medical-malpractice story.
"Did you need something?" She glanced at the screen. "I'm up to thirteen inches; I should have it to you in about fifteen minutes."
"Take your time," he said casually.
"Okay," she said, turning her attention back to her computer.
"So," he said, getting up and walking over to stand in front her desk, "I don't know if you heard, but Midwestern is playing the University of Metropolis tomorrow night ... it's a makeup game from the snowstorm last month."
She didn't look up. "So?"
"My alma mater ... your alma mater ... I was wondering if you'd like to go."
She regarded him suspiciously. "Like a date?"
He flashed a disarming grin. "I was thinking more along the lines of a nice evening watching my best friend's alma mater get thrashed by my mine."
She laughed. "Aren't we confident."
He shrugged. "The Monarchs are 13-3."
"Yeah, in Division II," she shot back. "UM has only lost one conference game so far." A smug smile crept across her face. "That would be Big 10 play, in case you forgot."
He raised his eyebrows. "Why Ms. Lane, I wouldn't take you for a basketball fan."
She just smiled. "Pick me up at seven."
As he smiled back, she added, "And don't think for a second that I'm sitting with the farm crowd."
At precisely seven the next evening, Clark knocked on Lois' door. She had been waiting near her fish tank, but stopped and silently counted to fifty. She didn't want to let on just how excited she was to go the game with him.
After all, that wasn't how they played the game. She was supposed to be slightly cool and disaffected; he was supposed to work for her attention.
Her face broke into a smile as she opened the door. "Hi."
He just stared at her.
"What?" She followed his gaze to her outfit, a pair of jeans and a crimson t-shirt with University of Metropolis Basketball and the outline of a ball printed in white. "Oh this?" She shrugged. "It's old."
"I just didn't realize you were that big of a fan."
She shrugged again, more uncomfortably this time, as she rolled up the short sleeves that swallowed up her slender arms. "My dad, uh, was a big fan. He, uh, would occasionally take me to dinner and a game when I was in college. He didn't have much interest in my journalistic career, but he definitely followed the basketball team. So I followed the basketball team."
As she smiled sadly, he took a step toward her. "Well, you look great."
Her eyes swept over his dark-orange t-shirt with Midwestern University in white lettering and a pair of faded jeans. "You do, too." She narrowed her eyes in amusement. "What, does Midwestern think of itself as the Texas of the Midwest?"
He looked down at his shirt. "No, Lois," he began patronizingly, "Texas' orange is burnt orange. Our orange is amber orange."
She giggled. "Was pureed yam already taken?"
He raised his eyebrows. "This coming from the woman who went to a university that clearly ripped off Alabama's color scheme?"
"Excuse me," she cut in. "UM has been around a lot longer than Alabama."
"Whatever," he shot back. "Roll tide roll."
She suppressed a laugh as she looked at her watch. "How appropriate. We better roll if we're going to make it by tip-off."
As they crossed the street from the parking garage, Lois gestured disgustedly at the sign welcoming them to Air Stevens Arena.
"This is just ridiculous."
Clark was confused. "The sign? Is there a spelling error on it?"
She shook her head emphatically. "No. When I was here, it was Hahn Pavilion, after one of the original Regents. And then some corporate jackass decides he wants to own an arena ... Never mind that he didn't even bother to grace the team with his presence for a full four seasons."
"Roger Stevens? Wasn't he the number three overall pick of the '88 draft?"
"That's not the point," she snapped. "He thinks being the CEO of Air Metro entitles him to strip the arena of all tradition. And the name? Does he think he's some kind of god?"
"It is a bit egotistical," he agreed. "Why not name it Air Metro Arena?"
"Because he wanted to change the airline's name to Air Stevens after he bailed it out, but the board of directors overruled him." She rolled her eyes. "Idiot."
Clark hid a smile. He had seen Lois go off on tangents about everything from the wrong kind of steno pads in the supply closet to people who drove too slowly in the fast lane on the freeway.... But to see her fired up about sports was something new.
And despite his declaration that this was a platonic outing, he found her ardent attitude incredibly sexy.
"FOUL! That was a foul!"
Clark burst out laughing as Lois jumped up and down in frustration. "It was *not* a foul!"
"It was too! He threw his elbow in thirty-four's face when he went for the rebound!"
"He did not!"
"He did too! The refs are completely screwing us!"
He smirked. "Are we watching the same game?" He dragged out the syllables of his next sentence. "You're ahead." A pause, for emphasis. "By five."
"Yeah, well, it would be seven if the idiot ref had called the foul."
Clark smiled, secretly enjoying her growing irritation. "Your guy has only been two of four on free throws so far. He probably wouldn't have made both shots."
Lois glared at him and turned her attention back to the game, cheering loudly as the Wildcats' star forward drilled a three-pointer. "Yes! In your face, Kent!"
He laughed. "Enjoy it while it lasts."
As the teams headed off the court, she crossed her arms in frustration. "We *were* up by seven."
"And now you're up by zero."
"We're tied, Farmboy. Don't go getting cocky just yet. There's a lot of basketball left to be played."
"Won't make a difference," he argued. "Your best outside shooter hit what, two whole shots in the first half?"
"Don't worry," he said teasingly, "UM won't drop in the standings too much after tonight. Tenth, twelfth, max."
"We're seventh," she snapped. "And we're staying there." A condescending smile. "Unless we move up after we kill your little butterflies in the second half."
"Hey," he protested, "monarchs are tough."
"I think the word you were going for is pretty."
"Why don't we bet?"
Clark swallowed nervously. He knew Lois well enough to be fully aware that anything that involved a wager with her could be downright dangerous. "Bet?"
"Yeah. Make the game a little more fun."
"Are you not having fun?"
"Oh, no," she said quickly. "I'm having a great time. I just thought it would be fun since the game is tied."
"I'm listening," he said cautiously.
She thought about it for a moment. "How about if UM wins, you have to bring me lunch tomorrow from that fabulous Chinese place you won't divulge the name of."
He fought a smile. If only she knew the crab rangoons she adored were actually from Shanghai.
"And you?" she prompted.
"Oh, I don't know. How about I just bring you lunch anyway?"
"Come on, Clark!" She tapped her foot impatiently. "You aren't being any fun."
"The word competitive comes to mind," he said teasingly.
"The words damn straight come to mind," she retorted. "A little healthy competition is good for you. Gets the adrenaline flowing."
He felt his insides contract as she smiled at him. God, how he loved this woman.
"I'm sure there's something you've always wanted me to do for you."
"Well, come to think of it ..." He wiggled his eyebrows suggestively. "There is *one* thing."
"Relax," he laughed. "I'm kidding."
She looked unconvinced. "How do I know you're aren't lying?"
"Lois ..." He paused, trying to find the right words, which in this case were a little white lie. "... If I was attracted to you ... in that way ... I'd have asked you to the game as a date."
After a minute, she gave him a little smile. "I know."
Clark felt despondency grip at his heart. If only he could tell her that he was lying. That he thought about her every moment of the day. That she was the only woman he would ever want.
But that wasn't how they played the game, so he just smiled. "Good."
She looked up at him from beneath her long eyelashes. "Name your price."
"I need to think about it. Do you want something to drink?"
"A Diet Coke would be great."
"I'll be back in a minute."
As he turned to walk away, she called after him, "Hey Clark ..."
He turned around. "Yeah?"
She flashed a dazzling smile. "I meant what I said. I'm having a really great time."
He smiled back at her. "I am too."
Lois watched him walk down the stairs, her mind racing. She didn't want this to be a date, and yet when he clarified that it wasn't, she had felt an unexpected emotion. It almost felt like ... disappointment.
No, that couldn't be right. Clark was her partner. Her best friend.
Then again, she couldn't deny that there had been something -- a moment -- as they stood holding hands in front of her little Christmas tree the month before. For a moment, she had thought he was going to kiss her, but the mood was broken by the carolers outside.
And since that night, she had wondered what it would feel like to kiss him.
Not like when she murmured a plan of attack into his mouth while being held at gunpoint aboard Jason Trask's plane, or as a show for the maid in The Lexor's honeymoon suite.
A kiss that meant something.
As he waited in line at the concessions stand, Clark nervously shifted from foot to foot.
To say he needed a drink was an understatement. His mouth had gone unexpectedly dry halfway through the first half when she stood to cheer for the Wildcats and the hem of her shirt rode up, revealing a few inches of her flat torso and creamy skin. Never mind the way her jeans hugged her in all the right places.
Ever since Christmas, it had become harder and harder to keep up the pretense of just being friends, especially on nights like this, when they were having so much fun.
They always had fun together.
They belonged together.
Now if only he could get her to realize it.
When he returned to their seats, Lois was staring at the court, where the cheerleaders were performing their halftime show, but her mind clearly was elsewhere.
He held out a cup. "One Diet Coke, just as you requested."
She snapped out of her reverie. "Thanks, Clark." She took a sip and then fixed him with a determined look. "So, did you think of something?"
He was busy watching the way her full lips wrapped around the straw, leaving a faint imprint of plum lipstick. "Huh?"
"Our bet," she reminded him impatiently.
"Oh. I ... um ..." He thought for a moment, fighting his sudden impulse to tell her that she had to go out with him if his team won. "Okay, I've got it. If Midwestern wins, you have to ... uh ..."
"... go out with me," he thought to himself, blushing a little.
Have to what? she wondered. This was Clark. Whatever it was, it couldn't be *that* bad.
"You have to do something nice for me," he finished lamely.
"Do something nice for you?" she repeated, confused. "Like what?"
He shrugged and took a drink of his soda. "That's up to you."
The score was 67-all and the crowd was on its feet. Double-teamed and unable to find an open man in his line of sight, one of the Monarchs' forwards heaved the ball out to the perimeter and into the guard's hands.
"TRAVELING!" Lois complained stridently. "He was clearly traveling!"
"You're horrible!" Clark threw his head back and laughed. "He was not!"
"Yes he was!" she insisted. "The refs are clearly ..."
She trailed off, her eyes widening in surprise. Clark followed her gaze to the far end of the court.
Even with the Wildcats' 6-foot-7 forward defending him, the guard hoisted the ball into the air with two seconds to spare.
A near silence descended over the arena as the ball sliced cleanly through the net.
The buzzer sounded.
The visiting side went nuts.
"And that does it here at Air Stevens Arena," the announcer said, a touch of dejection creeping into his voice. "Midwestern University, 70, The University of Metropolis, 67."
As they stood up, Clark slowly turned to face Lois, ready for an onslaught of insults about Midwestern, its coaching staff, the walk-on junior's lucky shot and maybe, if she got on a roll, butterflies and other winged insects.
But she surprised him.
She was watching him quietly, her expression unreadable.
"Good game," he said affably. "Your boys played hard."
Before he knew what was happening, she leaned in, stood on tiptoe and kissed him gently.
As she stepped back, he felt his mouth drop open in astonishment.
"I thought I'd pay up now," she said softly. "I didn't think you'd mind."
"No ..." he managed to choke out. "Not at all."
She smiled shyly. "Was I nice enough for you?"
"Definitely." As he said the words, a slow smile spread across his face. "But something tells me you could be even nicer."
"I bet I could, too," she murmured, moving closer and winding her arms around his neck. "Double or nothing?"
"Sure," he breathed as he wrapped his arms around her waist, scarcely able to believe he was holding Lois Lane so intimately, and even more disbelieving that she was letting him.
Their lips met for a sweet kiss that quickly grew more passionate.
"Oh yeah," he murmured against her lips, "you *are* nice."
She giggled, a low sexy sound that set his blood boiling. "So are you changing your mind?"
His head was swimming. "About what?"
"About this not being a date?"
He smiled down at her. "I'm willing to call it a date if you are."
A slow grin crept across her face. "Take me home, Farmboy. I'll show you just how nice I can be."