By Jennifer Baker
Summary: Clark works up his courage to ask Lois to the Daily Planet's New Year's Eve Ball.
This is my New Years-First date-why they haven't kissed- story
Merry Christmas all
The small envelope was addressed simply, "Lois Lane, Newsroom" in beautiful calligraphy. She turned it over in her hands, and, after ripping it open, pulled out the card inside. On the front, the Daily Planet logo. On the inside, an invitation for "Lois Lane and Date" to the Daily Planet annual New Years Eve Ball. "Oh, great."
She looked up, across at Clark. Ever since Christmas, when he had come over to her apartment, things had been different between them. She knew he was attracted to her, in fact, might even be in love with her, despite all his denials. And now the ball. She had conveniently forgotten all about it. She couldn't dream of going with anyone besides Clark, and yet, at the same time, she was hoping he wouldn't ask her. Her own feelings were too confused to have to make a decision on anything yet. She knew she felt something for Clark beyond friendship, but she couldn't deny her strong feelings for Superman. She had told him she loved him, and that had not changed.
Clark glanced up, feeling Lois' eyes upon him, and she quickly looked down, blushing slightly He smiled to himself, seeing the card in her hands. He had been trying to drum up the nerve to ask her all day, and now seemed the perfect opportunity. Hesitantly, he got up from his chair and approached her desk. "Lois?"
She looked up, still slightly flustered from having got caught staring. "Y- Y-Yes?"
Clark couldn't even look up at her as he spoke. Instead, he looked down, playing with his hands. "Um, Lois, I was wondering if you would, um, like to go with me to the New Year's ball Saturday?" He seemed to get his nerve, suddenly, and looked up, straight into her eyes. " I mean, really go with me. I was thinking I could pick you up at six, and we could go to dinner before the ball?"
She looked at him, and could see the hope in his beautiful brown eyes. She hated to destroy that hope, but she couldn't in all conscious lead him on. "Clark, I would love to … but I can't. It would be unfair to you."
He looked confused. "What do you mean?"
"Well … you know how I feel about Superman. I wouldn't want you to think that had changed. I just don't want you to get the wrong idea."
His eyes clouded over with hurt, and something else she couldn't quite place. "Lois. How long are you going to keep this up?" he asked.
"Keep what up?" She was getting a bit angry now. "Listen, Clark. You're the best friend I could ever have, and our relationship is really important to me, but what I feel for Superman is, well, special. I can't betray that. I was hoping you'd understand."
Clark could have kicked himself. Once again, he had spoken without thinking, and made her mad. He had never lost control like this before he'd met Lois. "I understand, Lois. Really I do. And I'm sorry. I wasn't asking you to do anything you weren't, well, ready for. I was just hoping we could go and have some fun."
"Well, when you put it like that," she smiled, glad he could understand. Glad he was willing to give her time to figure things out for herself. "Sure, I'll go. And thanks, Clark."
Now it was his turn to smile. "Then I'll pick you up at six?"
She nodded, and returned his smile. "Absolutely. And you'd better not be late."
Clark could not remember having ever been this nervous. Sure, he had gone to this sort of function with Lois before, but never like this. They had always "gone together," meeting there and spending the evening together, friends who didn't have anyone else to take. But tonight was different. Tonight he was picking her up at her apartment, and they were going to dinner before the ball.
Looking into the mirror, he straightened his bow tie for the millionth time. "OK, Clark. You can do this." With that short prep talk, he turned and left for her apartment.
Ten minutes later, Lois heard him knock at her door. She too, was terribly nervous. Why had she agreed to this? She was in love with Superman, wasn't she? But then she remembered all the times Clark had been there for her, had understood her. She smiled, remembering how wonderful he had looked, standing at her door on Christmas Eve, and his expression as she called him on his phony excuse. How wonderful his hand had felt in her own. How she had felt as they had leaned towards each other, and, most importantly, how disappointed she had been when interrupted. She might still have feelings for Superman, but she couldn't keep denying her feelings for Clark, either. It was all terribly confusing. How could she love two men at once?
Pulling herself together, she opened the door.
He was standing there, in a black tuxedo, with a bouquet of fresh, white roses in his hands. She had never seen him look more handsome. He smiled shyly. "Hello, Lois."
"Clark!" She stepped back, letting him in. He entered the apartment, and handed her the roses. She took them, exclaiming, "They're beautiful."
Clark looked at her, standing there in a floor length royal blue dress. As she moved, the slit on the side swung open, revealing a tantalizing glimpse of thigh. Clark jerked his attention back to the flowers. "Well, you didn't seem to like the yellow ones … "
"Yes I did," she corrected, looking up at him with an intensity that stopped his heart, "once I knew they were from you. But these are perfect, too." Stepping into the kitchen, she pulled a vase from a shelf, filled it with water, and placed the roses inside. Then, she brought them back into the living room, and placed them on the coffee table. "There, perfect." She backed up, to get a better view, until her shoulder just brushed Clark's chest. Reaching back, she squeezed his hand. "Thank you."
"You're welcome. Should we be going?"
She turned around, facing him, still holding his hand, "OK." Placing his free hand at the small of her back, Clark led her out the door.
Lois leaned against Clark's chest as the music swirled around them. She could not remember when she had last had such a wonderful evening. Dinner had been perfect. They had gone to a little Italian restaurant Clark had only recently discovered, but where he'd been promising to take her. The food had been wonderful, but it wasn't the food she was remembering now. Instead, it was the memory of Clark sitting across the table from her, with his quick smile and easy conversation. He had told her things tonight he'd never mentioned before, about traveling through the Far East, and his time in South America. She had seen glimpses of this side of Clark before, but never such a clear picture. And it amazed her that, as well-traveled as he was, there was still that part of him that would forever remain a farm-boy from Kansas, facing the world with wide-eyed wonder and idealistically certain that he could somehow make that world a better place.
How different his outlook was from her own practiced cynicism. Lois had always prided herself on her ability to see through people and events, bringing darkest secrets out into the open. But Clark had helped her to see that sometimes, the secrets weren't dark, and that hope wasn't just a waste of effort. As she thought these things, Lois unconsciously stepped a little closer into Clark's embrace. He noticed this, and held her a little tighter to himself, feeling her body relax against his. It felt so right, holding her like this. He wished the music would never end.
It did, of course. Lois reluctantly lifted her head from his shoulder. As she looked up, her eyes met his, and she saw in his eyes a reflection of the longing in her own. As they stood there, unmoving, he slowly leaned towards her. As their lips touched, she closed her eyes, in anticipation of the kiss she had so long desired. And snapped them open when the band began to play a fast rock-n-roll number. She and Clark moved apart quickly, instantly aware once again of where they were.
Chuckling ironically, Clark moved her off the dance floor. "Come on, let's get something to drink."
She nodded numbly, and allowed herself to be led over to the champagne bowl. As Clark bent to pour her a glass, she surreptitiously studied his profile. How his hair fell forward as he leaned down, threatening to fall into his eyes. And how his tuxedo jacket rippled with his muscles as he moved his arms forward.
Clark looked up from the bowl and found her staring. This time, however, instead of looking away, she continued looking, unabashed. She smiled at him, in that little girl manner he found so disarming. He returned her smile, and handed her a glass. "Here."
As they sat down on a nearby bench to watch the other dancers, Clark's thoughts were in a turmoil. Once again, they had almost kissed, but something had stopped them. To be completely honest, though, Clark had to admit to himself that the interruptions were just an excuse. If he had really wanted to kiss Lois, little things like carolers and songs were not going to be able to stop him. He looked at her out of the corner of his eye. She was so incredible … beautiful and brilliant at the same time. Lois was the first woman he had ever desired, but she was also the best friend he had ever, and probably could ever, have. He was not about to risk that friendship for anything. Rushing into something deeper could be disastrous. And so he was content to wait. Besides, he knew how much Lois still wanted Superman, could see it in her eyes when she looked at him. Until she got over that, Clark was not about to be her second choice.
Clark smiled grimly to himself. Of course, he WAS Superman, but Superman was not who he really was. It was nothing more than a projection, a disguise he wore to protect his identity and those he loved from danger. And Clark kept hoping that Lois would see through that disguise, see the real man inside, and want him instead. Only then could she be truly his.
The rock song ended, and Jimmy Olsen reeled towards them from the dance floor. "Hi, guys."
"Hi, Jimmy. Where's Angela?"
"She stepped into the ladies' room for a moment, Lois. She said she'd meet me over here."
Lois glanced at Clark. "Well, that seems like a good idea. I'll see you boys in a moment." And with that, she got up and headed towards the door.
When she left, Jimmy turned to Clark. "So, how's it going?" he asked with a knowing grin.
"Jimmy … " Clark noticed Jimmy's teasing expression, and smiled himself. "Great, actually. And you?"
"Angela's wonderful, Clark. I'm so glad Lois explained the whole rat thing to her. And can you believe it," Jimmy sat down on Lois' recently vacated seat, "she actually thinks its cool that I was willing to admit to being affected. Something about real men can admit their weaknesses.'" Clark laughed. "Well, I'm glad you're so happy, Jimmy. Angela seems like a great gir . er, woman."
"Oh, she is, Clark. The best." Of course, every woman Jimmy dated was "the best," but Clark wasn't about to remind him of that now. Instead, he just nodded in agreement.
While Jimmy and Clark were "male bonding," Lois found Angela in the ladies' room. "Hi, Angela. Fancy meeting you here."
"Oh, hi Lois."
"So… how's it going?"
"Great. Jimmy is such a sweetheart." Lois smiled to herself. "And besides, he has such an interesting life."
"Oh, what do you mean?" Lois wondered what Jimmy had told her. "You know, taking pictures for the Planet. Did you know Jimmy was a close friend of Superman?"
Lois didn't quite know how to respond to that. "Um, well, yeah, they're pretty close. In fact, I don't think, besides Clark … and myself, that Superman has a closer friend." As she spoke, Lois was reminded once again of how very little she actually knew about the Man of Steel. "So, yeah, Jimmy's one of his close friends." If the boy wanted to brag, who was she to interfere?
"Yeah. Isn't that awesome?"
Lois smiled at the younger woman. "Sure is."
Lois and Angela left the room together, and rejoined Clark and Jimmy at the dance floor. Jimmy jumped up as they approached, and, after excusing themselves, he and Angela walked off together.
Clark turned to Lois. "Would you like to dance, again? If I remember correctly, you're rather good at this sort of thing." The band had begun to play a country song, perfect for two-stepping.
She giggled. "Sure, but I think we'll be the only two out there." Two-stepping was not very big in Metropolis.
He smiled. "You afraid people will watch? Or that I'll show you up?"
"Me? Are you kidding? I can dance the boots off you, Kent."
He reached out his hand for hers. "Prove it." And, holding her close, he stepped out onto the floor.
Several minutes later, breathless and tired, they stepped off the floor. "OK, I admit it. I'm no match, Clark. How can you keep going like that?"
He smiled slyly, and leaning down, spoke into her ear. "Stamina, Lois. And lots of practice."
She looked up, just in time to catch the gleam in his eye. "I'll bet."
They stood together throughout the next dance, allowing Lois time to catch her breath. Then, the band began a new number, and Lois' breath caught again, but for an entirely different reason. It was Fly Me to the Moon.
Clark looked over at Lois. Trying to gauge her reaction. Was she remembering the dance? He sighed, remembering dancing with Lois to that song. How many times since that night had he regretted going over to her apartment? But at the time, he could not have prevented himself for all the world. He had been having such a wonderful time, dancing with her at the party, until Mayson had cut in. And Lois had hardly reacted. Clark would have gladly kept dancing with her all night, but, when she didn't object, he couldn't refuse Mayson. But that hadn't kept him from longing to hold her again. And so he had gone to her apartment as Superman, hoping at least to be able to spend a few more moments with her. Much to his surprise, she had asked him to dance, and, unable to refuse her, he had accepted the invitation. And now, the song was sure to remind her of Superman, driving that wedge between them once again.
As the song began, Lois smiled sadly to herself. Dancing with Superman, suspended in his arms, had been wonderful. But, like all her time with Superman, it had been over almost before it had started, and he had flown out of her life once more. In fact, since that time, she had hardly seen him alone at all.
She glanced sideways at Clark. How different he was from Superman. Without that mystery, and without that amazing ability to literally sweep her off her feet. And yet, at the same time, she knew that what she had with Clark was perhaps even more special. He was her best friend, and she knew she could tell him anything, and he would still accept her. Whenever she needed someone to talk to, he was there, willing to listen. But it was more than that. It was the way he looked out for her, protected her, cared for her. Like when they had been facing the gangster clones, and he had stood up for her, almost dying as a result. And protecting her when that Finn character was trying to kill her, and the Prankster. Sure, Superman was always flying in to save the day, but he always flew out just as quickly. It was the day-to-day things that mattered, and Clark had never let her down.
And Clark was definitely attractive. In all honesty, she had to admit that he was at least as attractive as Superman. Moreover, unlike all the other good-looking men she had met, he did not use his looks to gain an advantage. And she had definitely given Clark enough opportunities to take advantage of their relationship, but, true gentlemen and friend that he was, he had never done so. Unfortunately, for she remembered all the times he had held her, and all the times they had kissed. How he had the ability to light something inside her she had never know existed until she had met him.
Finally, she remembered how terrible it had been when she'd thought she'd lost him, after he'd been shot by the gangsters; how she couldn't imagine life without him; how alone she had been. And she realized once again that life, especially theirs, was risky. She couldn't afford to waste a minute.
Turning towards him, she made up her mind. "Clark, would you like to dance?"
He was obviously surprised. "You mean to this song?"
"Of course, this song. Well? Would you?"
"Uh, sure. OK … I'd love to."
As they stepped back onto the floor, Lois laid her head against his shoulder. "Did you know, Clark, that Superman and I once danced to this?" Clark knew it - she was thinking of Superman, and he was, once again, just the nearest substitute.
"No." She felt his body stiffen against hers as he spoke. "But if you'd rather be dancing with Superman … " He released his hold on her, and stepped back, off the dance floor.
She followed him, grabbing his arm. "No, Clark. That's not it. That's not it at all." He turned back to face her, and she continued, looking straight into his eyes. "It's just that … Well, when Superman and I danced, it was in my apartment, all alone. And then he left."
He had no idea where she was going with this. "Yes … "
"And I suddenly realized, right now, that you and I can dance together, like this, anywhere, and practically anytime. And that I don't have to worry about you flying off after the dance is over." She smiled suddenly, that radiant smile that melted his heart. Taking a deep breath, she went on, "I've wanted to tell you for such a long time, but I was always worried … about Superman, about hurting our friendship … but Superman's had his chance, and I think, maybe, you might … life is too short … " Clark just waited, letting her babble her way to a conclusion. She took a deep breath and continued, "Well, Clark, what I wanted to say was … "
What she wanted to say was suddenly drowned out as Perry White's voice boomed out across the room. Clark and Lois both turned to face him, upset at yet another interruption.
"Ladies and Gentlemen … can I have your attention please. In five more minutes, we will be saying goodbye to yet another successful year for the Daily Planet. In the immortal words of The King. Year's speech.
The speech ended at nearly a minute before the hour. All eyes turned to the huge clock next to the band, which had been slowly counting down the time to midnight all evening. Together, the staff of the Daily Planet began calling out the seconds before the hour, "59 - 58- 57…"
As the seconds passed, Lois tried to be patient. But Lois was not, by nature, at all patient, and so, having finally decided what she wanted, she realized that she wanted it NOW. She was not going to risk yet another delay. To give herself another chance to chicken out.
"43 - 42 - 41 …"
Looking at him standing there, next to her, holding her hand, she made up her mind. "Clark!" She struggled to be heard against the roar of the crowd.
He stopped counting and turned to her. "What?!"
"What I wanted to say was … !" But she could no longer hear her own voice against the counting. She tried again. "I wanted to tell you … !"
"I love you!"
He froze, staring at her, unable to believe what he'd just heard. He'd dreamed of this moment for so long. It was hard to believe it was actually happening. "What?!"
"I love you!" She screamed again, not caring who heard.
He had heard correctly. He wasn't dreaming.
"Well? Are you going to say something?" He was standing there, staring at her, a shocked expression on his face.
Around them, completely unnoticed, the rest of the staff continued the count, "10 - 9 - 8 …"
He looked at her, standing there, so beautiful, screaming that she loved him, and for once, words failed him completely. Laughing at his dazed expression, Lois slid both hands behind his head, and pulled him to her. For one brief moment, he resisted, unsure of himself, scared to take that final step. And then, looking deep into her eyes, he found the fire he'd so often felt in himself. Without a further thought, he moved to her. As their lips met, the room erupted with shouts of "Happy New Year," but neither of them noticed. For their world consisted of each other, as the fire they had both long suppressed rose up to consume them.