By LaraMoon <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Submitted February 2008
Summary: When silver boxes hold more than just chocolate.
Once upon a time, on a website far, far away, a few of us had a little challenge -- set a goal, meet it within one week's time, get a story from me as a reward. Not exactly the Publishers Clearing House jackpot, but... you know...
Well, the week went by and people met their goals. Some of them got their prizes fairly quickly. One of them didn't. It's taken me months to finally find the idea and the inspiration to write something that could be called a reward.
This is for Caroline K. -- I hope she finds it was worth the wait.
With eternal thanks to my betas and my 'support group' -- they know who they are. <hugs>
For the fifth time in as many minutes, Lois looked away from her screen and glanced toward the box of chocolates sitting on Megan's desk. It had been there for days. Untouched. Unguarded.
Lois tightened her jaw and grumbled to herself, annoyed by the fact that a small box of truffles could distract her so much. She had a story to write, the deadline was looming, but all she could think about was the wonderful feeling she would have as the dark chocolate melted on her tongue.
She was convinced that the food columnist had left it there on purpose, knowing that the temptation would likely drive her crazy. And it was working, too.
Unable to sit idle any longer, being mocked by a tiny silver box a few desks away, Lois looked around the newsroom carefully and, confident that no one was paying attention to her, she made her move.
Three short steps and she was at Megan's desk. A turn of the wrist and the box was opened, exposing its chocolate treasure. Quickly, Lois stuck her hand in the box, took one of the truffles and immediately popped it in her mouth. As the bittersweet flavor started spreading through her mouth, so did a smile across her face. Eyes closed, a sigh escaping her involuntarily, she spun on her heel, heading back to her desk and her deadline.
Lois opened her eyes again just in time to realize she was a second away from colliding with Clark. She froze in place, eyes wide, her smile disappearing instantaneously. She'd been caught -- and she knew it. Damn that do-gooder partner of hers!
"Lois? What are you doing?" he asked, his voice full of reproach, though he spoke barely above a whisper.
She gave him an awkward smile. "No'shing," she replied, desperately trying to hide the evidence by swallowing the mouthful of chocolate. "You're imagining things."
He raised an eyebrow at her. "Sure. And I suppose that chocolate in your mouth is imaginary, too?"
Lois grabbed him by the arm, forcing him to turn around and head away from the scene of her crime.
"Oh, come on," she answered, muttering under her breath, "it's not like she's even going to notice it's gone. She won't be back from vacation until--"
"That's no excuse, Lois, and you know it."
"Stop being so judgmental, Clark. It's just a piece of chocolate. Megan won't even care!" Lois protested. "Besides, the way I see it, I'm doing the chocolate a favor."
"You're-- what?" Clark chuckled. "A favor? Lo-is!"
"No, seriously." She stopped and turned to face him, looking up at him in earnest. "I'm liberating it from the box. Before it turns bad. Clark, I'm *saving* the chocolate."
He rolled his eyes and chuckled again. "Lois, we're talking about truffles, here. This isn't a hostage situation. How would you feel if you found out someone was stealing your chocolate?"
"I would never leave chocolate out on my desk like that," she argued, "especially not while I'm away on vacation! I mean, look at it -" Lois pointed towards the box "- it's, it's... it's just sitting there, begging to be eaten. It's been *teasing me* -- for days!"
"You're completely incapable of resisting temptation, aren't you?" Clark commented, a lop-sided smile on his lips.
"I'm perfectly capable of resisting temptation, thank you very much!"
"Well, OK. There are two things I can't say no to," she admitted. "Can't and won't."
"Chocolate," he said, his eyes narrowing in thought. "What's the other?"
"Superman," she sighed. Lois slid down in her chair, a wide smile on her lips and a dreamy look upon her face.
"Right. Chocolate and Superman." Clark shook his head dejectedly before returning to his desk.
Clark had walked by the chocolatier's shop several times already, without really noticing that it was there. He had walked by several stores, and a few dozen people, without really paying attention to them. He'd been a strange daze all morning.
This time, when he passed in front of the window display, a reflection in the glass caught his eye. He stopped abruptly and stared at it for a moment. He shrugged, then walked away, only to come back again for another look. And another one after that.
It was true, he realized, small silver boxes *could* tease.
He sighed as he went into the store. It seemed like an eternity ago that he'd caught Lois stealing a truffle from a box exactly like that one. Though in fact, it was just the day before. So many things had changed since then. So many things -- so fast.
Everything seemed like an eternity ago.
There wasn't a newsroom to go to anymore. There wasn't even a Daily Planet. The building had gone up in a ball of flames, and with it the livelihood of so many people. And as if that hadn't been enough to shatter Clark's own hopes and dreams, the worst blow of all had come when he had learned that Lex Luthor had proposed marriage to Lois.
In the blink of an eye, he had lost it all. All the things that were dear to him, gone. Taken away, stolen. It was Luthor's doing, Clark knew. The devil in a three-piece suit.
Well he wasn't going to let him get away with it. Not if he could help it. He'd fight for the things he cared about. For the Planet to be rebuilt. For Lois...
He'd make things right again. Because that was what Clark Kent always did.
A few minutes later, he exited the shop, a small silver box in hand and a look of determination in his eyes.
"Clark?" Lois exclaimed, surprised to find him standing at her doorstep. She hadn't thought to look before opening the door and to see him there had startled her somewhat. "What are you doing here? I mean, uh, not that I'm not glad to see you, but I wasn't expecting to see you. Right now, that is. You know, since we're supposed to meet at LNN later and--"
"May I..." He cleared his throat. "May I come in?"
"Oh. Of course, of course." She moved to the side and let him in, promptly closing the door behind him a moment later.
A few long seconds of awkward silence passed.
"Is something... wrong?" Lois asked, finally. "Clark?"
"Wrong?" he echoed. "No. Not wrong. I just- Oh, I got this for you." He handed her the box of chocolates. "Truffles," he explained, a shy smile tugging at his lips.
"Thank you," she said, looking suddenly just the opposite of happy. "I'm not going to like this, am I?"
Clark frowned. He opened his mouth to answer, but nothing came out.
"The reason you're here," Lois continued, "I'm not going to like it at all, huh? That's what these are for? To soften the blow?"
"Oh. No, no, that's not it," he explained. "Well, it wasn't my first thought, anyway."
"Then you have a favor to ask. That's it, isn't it? You need a favor from me. And you thought since I told you I can't resist--"
"Yeah, I know, but--" He stopped for a second, running a nervous hand through his hair. "Lois, we need to talk. About Lex."
"Lex?" The name came out of her like a strangled cry. "Oh, no, Clark, you're not going to start all over again with your crazy ideas about how he--"
"They're not crazy," he protested. "What if I had proof? Lois, what if I could prove that he's not as clean as he looks like?"
"You don't have proof, Clark. If you had any, you would have given it to me a lot sooner than this, and you wouldn't be standing here now looking like a kid whose dog was run over by the milk truck." She took a deep breath and continued before he even had time to argue. "Chocolate is nice, by the way, but if you think that would make me listen to your half-baked theories, Clark.... Lex is a good, kind man. He isn't a monster. Believe me, I would know. Besides, you'd have to do a lot better than a box of chocolates. I might not be able to say no to *them*, but I most certainly can to you!"
"Ah. But didn't you say there were two things you couldn't say no to?"
"Yes, yes, two things. Chocolate and Superman," Lois explained, arms crossed in front of her chest and foot tapping a nervous rhythm on the hardwood floor. "But the last time I looked, Kent, you weren't him."
"Yes, Lois, I was." With that, he removed his glasses and took a step forward. "I've always been. You just weren't looking closely enough."
Lois sucked in a sharp breath, her eyes growing wide.
"Now," Clark said, putting the glasses back on, "could we please talk about Lex Luthor?"