By Renate Brink
Summary: Lois' cousin is getting married, and Lois needs a date for the wedding. Clark is available, but is he willing to act like Lois' boyfriend to further her game of one-upmanship with her catty relative?
Please send any comments, suggestions and downright criticisms to me at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks.
Once again she had left an unimportant chore till the last minute and it had suddenly reared its ugly head and left her in a pickle. Lois bit her lower lip and looked around the newsroom. Her eyes settled on Clark, busy researching some fine point, books opened and scattered in piles all over his desk. He looked so adorable chewing on his pencil absentmindedly.
"Clark, have I ever told you how much I like that jacket you're wearing?" Lois said as she stood near her desk with her arms crossed in front of her and a huge smile on her face.
"What do you want, Lois?" He replied in a bored voice not even bothering to look up from the reference book he was reading.
"Can't I even compliment my partner once in a while?" She tried again, pouting a little. This might be harder than she had anticipated.
"Lois, what do you want?" He looked up from his book and waited patiently. He had been through this routine too many times before.
"Oh, fine!" She huffed. "I try to be nice to my best friend and partner and all he can think is, I have some hidden agenda. Well, … Fine! Now I wouldn't let you to take me to my cousin's wedding even if you begged me!" She began to turn away …
"When is it?" Clark sighed.
"Tomorrow afternoon at 4 o'clock." She answered a bit anxiously.
"I'll pick you up 3:30." He sounded so resigned but, in reality, he was secretly thrilled to be able to spend some time with her outside of the office. He just didn't want her to figure that out … yet.
"Thanks, big guy! I knew you wouldn't let me down." She felt like a heavy weight had been lifted from her shoulders. "You have no idea what this means to me! Laura was born eight days before I was and she has always thought that, just because she came first … well, … she came first!" She hesitated for a moment. "Oh, and Clark? It wouldn't hurt if she thought that, well, we were slightly more than friends. She has always been really competitive and here she is getting married and I'm not even … never mind what I'm not …" Lois decided that the subject needed changing.
"You want me to pretend to be your boyfriend!?!" He knew enough not to be too surprised because when it came to competition, Lois wrote the manual. He just gained great pleasure in being able to make her squirm occasionally.
She frowned. "Well, when you put it that way, it does sound kind of foolish … so …" Lois brightened, "just don't put it that way!" She stood for a moment, feeling more than a little pleased with herself and then she turned and said, "Thanks again! You're a real life saver!" Lois hurried for the elevator.
Clark watched her disappear behind the elevator doors. He shook his head slowly. "If only you knew …" he answered under his breath.
Lois rushed into the church as the bells were ringing, late as usual. Laura stood there in all her full glory. The same height and weight as Lois but with a mane of golden, honey colored hair arranged in a mass of curls, she looked right at home in this house of angels. Her father stood next to her, as proud as the day she was born. They were waiting for the music to start. Lois tried to squeeze up against the wall where she hoped she couldn't be seen, but Laura's father, her Uncle Mike, waved at her and feeling caught, she joined them.
"Manless, are you, Lois? Again or should I say, still?" Laura beamed.
At that moment, Clark rushed through the door and up to Lois's side and said, "I'm sorry it took so long to park the car …"
Lois grabbed hold of his arm possessively as she glowered at her cousin and said, much too loudly, "Sweetheart, I was so worried about you! I missed you!"
He glared at her momentarily and then he smiled and said, "Oh … right … I missed you, too," and then with extra emphasis he added "Dear" and chuckled.
Lois shot him a look that would have killed if he were truly a mortal man and they snuck into the back of the church.
The evening had been fun for him so far. Lois had been very attentive. She had laughed at his jokes … perhaps a little too loudly. She had even placed her hand on his briefly during a lull in the conversation. He was content to be here with her. He would have enough pleasant memories to mull over for weeks to come!
Lois, on the other hand, felt as if she had a test to pass. Eager to relax, she drank too much champagne and hardly touched what was on her plate, even though the food had been excellent! Her Uncle Mike provided only the best!
By the time the band began the third song, she had unwound enough to misplace most of her inhibitions. "Mmmm … Come on, Clarkie! Come dance with me." She grabbed him by the tie and hauled him out onto the dance floor.
His intoxication came from her closeness. She smelled so good and felt so right there in his arms. He was lost in sensations without thought when she whispered in his ear, "Let's get out of here … right now!"
He pulled away from her in surprise and said, "Lois? …" The pleasure in his voice was barely concealed when he realized that instead of looking amorous, she was a sickly green instead. "Come on," he sighed a little disappointedly and led her quickly over to the opened double doors at the end of the dance floor.
They hurried out into the garden only to have their way blocked by Lois's cousin, Laura. "Well, Lois, it looks like you've done pretty well for yourself this time. I'd say he was a keeper." Her eyes traveled slowly up and down Clark's frame. "Now, what I want to know is …" her lovely face was marred by an ugly smirk, "What in heaven's name does he see in you?"
Lois opened her mouth as if to speak, doubled over and left her answer on the hem of her cousin's designer gown. Laura stood stunned, her mouth gaping open, her face a mask of outrage and disgust.
Lois slowly collapsed into a bundle at their feet as Clark answered, "That's what I love about her! She's always so full of surprises!"
Clark leaned over and gently offered Lois his hankie which she took and then she giggled and said slightly slurred, "I've been waiting to do that all my life! I'm only sorry that I didn't do it sooner."
Laura, pulled herself together as much as she could, and replied indignantly in classic cliché mode, "Well … I never …"
"More bad news for the groom!" Lois giggled in a sing song sort of way.
Clark bent down and tenderly scooped her up in his arms and spoke gently as if to a child, "You're not going to do that again, are you? If you are, just let me know, okay?"
Lois shook her head vigorously no and giggled for good measure. She put her head on his shoulder and sighed with a silly little self-satisfied grin on her face.
To Laura, he added, "Lovely party! We had a great time. Maybe when you both get back from your honeymoon we can all get together again." He smiled, standing there cradling Lois tenderly and effortlessly in his arms and for the first time in her charmed life, Laura understood what envy was. That was when it sank in. The game was over and Lois had won.
Clark tried hard not to behave like a mother hen. He sat staring out of the diner window, into the night and battled his desire to use his x-ray vision to check on Lois. He heard her coming but he waited till she slid into the seat across from him before he looked at her and asked, "Feeling better?" He reached for his cup of coffee …
"Uh hu," she answered sheepishly. Her face was freshly scrubbed and a few stands of the hair that surrounded her face were still wet from repeated splashings. Clark noticed, and not for the first time, just how beautiful she was when she let her guard down.
Lois picked at her toast and drank a sip of tea. "Clark?" She started, "I … left my purse back there. There's nothing much of value in it, except my keys … I can't go back there, at least not now … It's midnight and I have no where to go …" She looked down at her hands fluttering helplessly in front of her.
His heart began to beat just a little quicker when he began, "You can sleep at my place. I'll sleep on the couch. It's not like we haven't done that before." He smiled reassuringly at her. She looked so vulnerable and sweet he would have slept on a bed of Kryptonite nails if it meant he could be with her for a few hours more.
He paid the check and they began the walk back to the car. She stumbled once. He reached out and put his arm around her to steady her and then, … he purposefully forgot to remove it. "You're one hell of a date, my dear," he teased her and then she knew everything was still okay between them."
"Oh, you think so? Well, just wait till next time, Buster …" she teased back. She leaned into him and silently welcomed the steadiness his body afforded.
They had been driving for quite a while in silence. Sometime after getting into the car, Lois had laid her head upon his shoulder. Her eyes were closed, her breathing rhythmical. The traffic was light at this time of night and Clark had been thinking. "Lois? Are you asleep? He asked quietly.
"Just … resting my … eyes," came her sleepy reply.
They pulled up in front of Clark's building and then he began softly, "Lois, maybe this isn't the best time to be talking about this, but, I've been thinking and this is something that I need to say." He paused for a moment, then continued, "There's a couple back home, Miss Willie Lee Somway and Pop Sibley. They've been seeing each other every Sunday since before anyone can remember … They enjoy each other's company. They have a deep affection for one another but they're, I don't know, scared maybe, of commitment. It's like they have each other but not really, kind of like you and me." Then, in an intense rush he added, "Lois, I don't want to end up sitting on your front porch with you every Sunday evening! I want more … I … love you." There! He had said it. He was glad it was out in the open because he wasn't sure he'd ever have the courage to do that again. And he waited.
Lois turned slightly and started to snore peacefully. He closed his eyes and dropped his forehead onto the steering wheel. He tried to will the knotted feeling in his stomach into going away. He slowly got out of the car and lifted her up without waking her and carried her into his apartment.
The next morning, Clark got up after a long fitful night on the couch and started to make coffee when Lois came stumbling up to the couch and flung herself down again.
"Rough night, Lois?" Clark smiled as he finished making the coffee.
"Actually," Lois said, picking up the pillow that Clark had so recently rested his head on, "It wasn't so bad. I had a wonderful dream. I was in a fog somewhere with Superman and he was telling me a story about a couple of old folks — Willy somebody and Pop Sicle or something .. and then he said he loved me!" She smile, "They don't get any better than that!" she added as she gave the pillow a big bear hug.