By Nancy Merckle (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Summary: Lois and Clark discover the meaning of Valentine's Day after Perry assigns them to a holiday piece.
Author's brief note: I thought long and hard about sending this now or waiting in hopes of finding a better song to use for the restaurant scene. Feel free to substitute any song you might feel fits the scene better, as you read.
Perry White was just about finished working out the assignments of the day. This was a ritual with him as he met every morning in the conference room with as many of his reporters and photographers as possible to work out the assignments. Each reporter had to have a very good reason if they missed the daily assignment meeting.
Lois was a bit tired and the coffee she was sipping, wasn't helping. Clark noticed but not before Perry called on her to come up with a special investigation report to coincide with next weeks lover's holiday … Valentines Day.
"Why me Perry? That used to be Cat's favorite assignment," she complained.
"Well as you know," Perry replied, "she left last year when The Planet had that temporary shut down."
"Wonderful," Lois said disgustedly. She looked over toward Clark who was trying to stifle a giggle. "Watch it Clark, I may get you to help me." Her disposition brightened as Clark grew uneasy. "We are partners after all."
"That's not a bad idea!" Perry remarked. "Of course that is if nothing earth shattering happens in the meantime requiring your collective efforts. It might be nice to get the story from two different viewpoints"
"Gee thanks," Clark muttered to Lois under his breath.
The meeting broke up with each reporter getting started on the assignments handed out. All that is except Lois and Clark. They stayed behind in the conference room.
"Exactly what are we going to do for this story?" Lois asked her partner.
"Is that why you dragged me into this?" Clark quipped.
Lois didn't know what to say. Should she admit that was the reason, or tell him the truth, that she simply wanted to spend some extra time with Clark around a romantic time of the year. She didn't want to be alone, while everyone else seemed to be pairing up for the second week in February. "Well, I didn't have any *good* ideas," she finally admitted. "The first thing that popped into my mind was a story on the amount chocolate sold."
"That sounds like you," Clark stated. "Along those lines, you have is the scandalous rise in the cost of flowers just before the 14th. But I don't think that's really what Perry had in mind for us."
"What do you think he wants?"
"Would it be out of line for us to ask him?"
Lois gave Clark her answer with a simple look but then added her voice to the look. "Yes … unless we can't come up with something before the end of the day."
"We could do a follow-up on Miranda, and her perfume that put the whole city at risk of her 'Revenge'," Clark suggested.
"I knew you wouldn't let me live down the dance of the seven veils" She replied disgustedly. "Oh Clark, I already am dreading this assignment. Tell me, what would you normally do on Valentine's Day."
"Well, if it had fallen on a weekend, I would probably try and spend the day in Smallville visiting my parents, but this year it falls on a Tuesday. What are your plans Lois?" Clark asked with a bit of a smile.
"Normally, I try to ignore the day. I'm usually too busy to pay much attention to something so trivial. But now that I have to do this story … " Lois sighed. "I don't know."
"We have a week, maybe something will fall in our lap on this." Clark said positively.
"The last time *I* said something like that, we almost got to do the last story of The Planet because of the nightfall asteroid." Lois complained.
"I don't think that will happen again, I'm sure it was a once in a lifetime event," Clark reassured her.
The day dragged on. Each time one of them came up with a remotely plausible idea, the other found a reason to throw it out. Finally the long work day came to an end. They still had no real plan for the Valentine's Day story. Lois and Clark finally decided it was time to talk to Perry. They cornered him in his office.
"We've come up with a few ideas on this story Perry, but neither of us are really gung ho on any of them." Lois told her boss.
"We thought that if we ran them by you, we could get a better idea of exactly what you wanted, and which idea to use," Clark added.
Lois and Clark took turns listing off some of their ideas. Perry showed no variation on his expression as they listed their ideas. They expanded a bit on the last two ideas, hoping he might like one enough to change his expression.
"Kids, your right. None of your ideas seem to be what I had in mind. Frankly, I think you're going about this assignment all wrong. What you ought to concentrate on is the romance of the day; and it can be a very romantic day." Perry commented.
"What are you and Alice going to do that day?" Clark asked.
"Well Clark, the plans for this year are still secret." Perry told them with a big smile. "Little surprises. That's one of the ways Alice and I keep romance in our marriage. Last year we spent the night at a romantic hotel as a change of pace. Two years ago, it was a very cold night, so we decided to just have a romantic evening in front of the fireplace with a good bottle of wine. The best part is that our plans for the day were spontaneous, and both of us had different ideas to explore. We discussed our ideas after I got home from work and decided what our main celebration would be. On top of that, each of us had our own little surprise planned. Over the years we've discovered that we both have a different viewpoint on what is romantic and that neither viewpoint is wrong." Perry could see that he was beginning to get the point across to his reporters.
"Perry, it sounds like you've had some really nice evenings. I bet Alice really enjoyed it," Lois told him with a touch of a sigh in her voice.
"What I think I'm looking for is … How do people meet and become Valentines? How do they plan something special for that special person in their life? What is traditional? What is unusual, new and different? You need to see this from various perspectives. If you want, we can expand it a bit into a three part series, with the meeting aspect on Monday, the ideas on Tuesday, and the perspectives on Wednesday. The Tuesday section might just give a reader the perfect idea of what to do for their special someone." Perry looked at his two reporters, trying to gauge their reaction.
"It seems to make sense, Perry." Lois told him. "Get into the idea of why Valentine's Day is special and what to do about it."
Perry smiled, "Now you've got it." Little did his two reporters know the real reason behind his smile. He knew that for them to truly understand the day, they would have to experience a bit of the magic, and that was the whole idea behind giving both of them the project. He knew that secretly each had a spark of feeling for the other. Perhaps with a little *nudge*, they would realize it too.
Lois and Clark left Perry's office and began to brainstorm ideas on how couples, met. Each feeding off the others ideas for new ideas. Clark began typing in the beginnings of the story as Lois made a few phone calls. The story was beginning to take shape.
Over the next few days, both reporters handled their regular assignments, with their valentine project relegated to spare time. The progress they made that first day, allowed them to complete a draft of the first part and most of the second part. When they started on part three, the trouble began again, which bogged them down. Thursday proved to be especially exasperating.
The bright red envelope stood out among the clutter of loose papers covering the desk of Lois Lane. Sitting down at her desk, she carefully opened the envelope and removed the card. It was pink and red with hearts and roses covering the front. She glanced over at Clark's empty desk. It was Friday, and usually Clark came in early on Friday so that he could leave early to spend the weekend with his parents. It was almost 9 AM, and still no sign of Clark. She began reading the inside of the card. When she got to the signature area, her jaw dropped.
Let's get together tonight for an early Valentine's Day
She looked up from the card just in time to see Clark come in. She walked over to his desk with the card in her hand. "This is very nice Clark. I'd love to spend some time with you this evening."
Clark smiled, "Great, I'll see if Perry will let us get an early start this afternoon. Maybe a little time off will help get us back on track."
Lois gave Clark a confused look. "What do you mean back on track? We derailed?
"Back on track with the story, Lois. We might find some of those perspectives Perry talked about."
"Oh," she sighed. "I didn't realize it was going to be an evening working."
Clark knew he had blown it. His idea was to get them together in a nice romantic setting so they could write part of the story from 'experience' and not through interviews and conjecture. He couldn't tell her that now though. He'd already given her as much of a hint as he dared. "I didn't mean it that way, Lois. Why don't you tell me what you thought when you accepted my invitation." Clark sat down to listen to Lois try to explain her thoughts.
"I don't know Clark. I guess I kind of expected a nice dinner, and maybe a movie. Something to relax after a hard week."
"That sounds nice, but it's something we could do any Friday night. I was thinking of something a little more… well … special. More in keeping with … "
"Oh I get it now, you want to celebrate Valentine's day a few days early to get a better handle on the story. Is that what you meant?"
"That was part of what I had in mind." Clark confessed.
"And the other part?" Lois looked at him trying to read his expression. She was failing miserably.
Clark cleared his throat, uncomfortable with her gaze. He had hoped he would not have to spell it out for her. He also wished he hadn't let so much of his 'plan' slip out. She was obviously waiting for him to say something. "I was also hoping to spend a nice, romantic evening with you."
Lois smiled. He admitted something she wanted to hear. "I'd like that too, Clark."
"I'll go talk to Perry, why don't you wrap up what you can. Maybe we can even spend part of the afternoon together."
Lois smiled at him hoping he would not see how much he was really looking forward to a romantic evening with him. She went back to her desk. There was only one story that needed a polish before she could really head out for the weekend. She called it up on the computer and began to read.
Clark pressed the save function on his computer and sent the story to Perry. His work was done until Monday. Now he could concentrate on the weekend, and his evening with Lois. He glanced in her direction.
She was still working on the finishing touches of a story. She glanced up to find him watching her and smiled. "Almost done." she told him, knowing that was one of the reasons he glanced in her direction. Returning her thoughts to the computer and the story, she spent about five more minutes with it until she too hit the save function and sent the file to Perry. "Ready." She announced.
The two friends walked out of the newsroom. There was a look on each of their faces that shouted 'if this wasn't work, we'd be holding hands'. Even Jimmy noticed a difference in their expression as they headed toward the elevator. "Have a good weekend!" he called out after them as the elevator doors closed.
"Shall we take my Jeep?" Lois asked him before pressing the button for the garage.
"Sure Lois. Where would you like to go and what would you like to do tonight." He asked her.
"Not this time," she told him. "How about a little decision making on your part, too."
"OK, I'll pick the restaurant, and we can discuss what you want to do after dinner while we eat. How does that sound?"
"That sounds fair to me, but I still want to hear your ideas for our after dinner plans."
"Deal," he announced. He stuck out his hand to shake hers on the 'deal' they had just made. She took it and didn't let go until the doors began to open on the garage level.
Lois maneuvered her Jeep out of the Garage and followed Clark's directions to the restaurant he had chosen.
For something different, Clark decided on an Italian restaurant in Metropolis' version of Little Italy. It was a bit upscale and he had read in one of the Planet reviews that on weekends they even employed one of those romantic roving violinists. On the way from the parking lot to the restaurant, they passed a flower shop.
"Just a minute Lois, I forgot something," he told her as he disappeared into the shop.
She watched through the window, as Clark purchased a corsage of red and white roses. "It's lovely Clark," she exclaimed as he came out of the shop and presented the corsage to her.
Gingerly, he pinned it on the lapel of her jacket. Then taking her hand, they walked the rest of the way to the restaurant.
The hostess seated them at a table in an out of the way corner. With dinner and a bottle of red Italian wine ordered, they began to plan the rest of their evening.
As he could have predicted, the roving violinist stopped by their table after the main course was delivered to get a request. "Do you know 'If I loved you' from Carousel?" The violinist nodded and began to play the song right beside the table.
Lois was curious as to why Clark had selected that particular piece. She tried to sit back and enjoy the music, but her subconscious kept asking her questions. Did he select if for the melody, the title, or the lyrics? Is he trying to tell me something though the song? 'Get a grip, Lois; Don't read anything into it that isn't there; it's just a song,' she told herself. But the lyrics still filtered through her thoughts.
If I Loved you,
Time and again I would try to say,
All I'd want you to know.
If I Loved you,
Words wouldn't come in an easy way,
Round in circles I go.
Longing to tell you, but afraid and shy.
I've let my golden chances pass me by.
Soon you'll leave me,
Off you would go in the mist of day.
Never, never to know,
How I Love you, if I Loved you.
After dinner they walked, hand in hand, back to her Jeep. It was dark now, and becoming a bit chilly. Lois shivered.
"Are you cold?
"Yes, just a little. I'll be fine when I get the heat on in the Jeep," she told him.
"Would you like my jacket?"
"That's not necessary, Clark, it's only a little further to the Jeep." she told him right before shivering again.
Clark let go of her hand, and put his arm around her, pulling her closer and trying to warm her up a bit. "We still haven't decided … dancing or a movie."
"Well, I'd love to go dancing, but not in this outfit. Why don't we just get a movie."
"You look nice in that outfit." Clark wasn't ready to tell her, but she'd look nice in almost anything.
"Thank you Clark. It's just that this is not a 'dancing' outfit." she explained.
"Oh, well, if you want to go dancing, I could wait for you to change. It's up to you."
They arrived at the Jeep. Clark walked her to the driver's side, and stayed at her side until she unlocked the door. Lois headed out of the parking lot without telling Clark of her destination. Soon he realized they were headed directly to her apartment.
Lois unlocked the multiple locks on her door. "I'll only be a few minutes," she told him. Then stopped. "Do you still want to go dancing?"
"Sure Lois, I'll just wait here on the couch," he smiled as he sat on the couch.
Lois disappeared into her bedroom. Clark heard a few drawers bang, and the closet door.
"Mind if I turn on the TV?" Hearing no reply, he picked up the remote and channel surfed. There wasn't much on, but he needed a distraction.
"Ready," Lois announced as she returned to the living room.
Clark turned around on the sofa, to see a radiant Lois in a bright red short sleeve dress. He stood up and walked over to where she was standing to take in the view in a more proper fashion. "Wow! You look great. Uh, Lois I have to admit, this outfit is a *lot* better for dancing."
"Thank you, kind sir," she told him curtsying with a bit of a giggle. "Oh, I do have one more 'little' problem though," she said with her voice becoming a bit more serious. "Could you help me with the corsage?"
Clark was in trouble now, just how are you supposed to pin those things on, without sticking the person underneath, when you can't, as a gentleman would never do, stick your hand between the pin and the person. There was no 'lapel' on her dress. Gingerly he took the corsage from her and the pin.
Lois noticed the look on his face… it was priceless. Realizing his dilemma, she lifted the edge of the dress away from her neckline so he could pin it on without sticking her. Once the corsage was in place, she took his hand in hers, and looked up into his eyes.
Clark couldn't help but notice that they were only inches apart. Lois was gently holding his hand at her side and looking wide-eyed up at him. He used his free hand to pull her even closer. He wanted to hold her and to kiss her right then and there. Looking into her eyes, he saw both desire and uncertainty.
Time ticked by, and neither moved forward or backward. It was becoming awkward. The moment was lost.
Clark released her even though he still wanted to hold her. "I guess we should go." His voice was a bit shaky, betraying his feelings for her.
Lois never noticed the difference in his voice, as she was fighting to get her own voice under control. "Yes, I guess so." She grabbed her coat and keys. Locking the door behind them, they left for the Starlite Club.
They danced and danced and danced, taking turns teaching each other new steps, and picking up tidbits of knowledge about each other. When they sat to rest, Clark ordered some white wine. It was getting late, but neither noticed. After sipping a bit of the wine, the band played 'Unchained Melody'. Clark took Lois' hand and led her to the dance floor.
"This is one of my favorite songs," Clark whispered. He held her as close as he dared.
"It's becoming one of my favorites, too," she whispered back.
The two slow danced across the floor. Clark held her even closer in response to her admission. The song ended, and Clark again found that he didn't want to let go. He leaned over and kissed her.
Lois felt a bit strange after the kiss, but didn't want to let on. Fortunately the band played 'Colour My World', and Clark again took her in his arms.
Clark glanced at his watch. "Lois, it's almost one. I think we should get you home."
"Wow, that late already? I haven't had an evening this wonderful in a very long time." Lois confessed. They left the Club with Lois retrieving her coat on the way out.
Lois guided her Jeep through the nearly empty streets of Metropolis.
"Did you want me to drop you off at your apartment?" Lois asked.
"No Lois, I want to see you properly to your door."
"How are you going to get home?" Lois asked as she pulled into her parking space. She shut off the engine and looked at Clark waiting for answer.
A smile crossed his face. "If you'll let me use the phone, I'll call a cab."
The best friends headed up to Lois's apartment. Again she unlocked the multiple locks on her door, entered and flipped on a light.
"The phone is over there," she told him, pointing in the general direction of the phone.
Clark dialed the number and requested the cab. "They said it would be about 20 minutes until they can get one here."
"Let's sit here on the couch then for a little while. I was hoping for a chance to tell you how much I enjoyed this evening." Lois told him as she put her hand on the couch to show him where she wanted him to sit.
Clark removed his jacket and sat down beside her. "It was a wonderful evening wasn't it." Clark put his arm around her as they sat there and commented on the evening.
Lois rested her head on his shoulder as silence set in. It had been a full week for her and she was tired. Her eyes drifted shut as she thought of the evening they had spent together. Even though she tried to desperately to stop it, she yawned.
"I guess that's my cue to leave" Clark whispered as he began to untangle himself from Lois and her couch. "Seriously though Lois, I'd love to do this, or something similar, with you again."
"We still have Valentine's Day."
"This was supposed to be our Valentine's Day," Clark reminded her… "How about a movie tomorrow night?"
"Sounds good to me." Lois replied as cheerfully as she could between yawns.
Clark stood, and helped Lois to her feet. "Now don't go falling asleep in that beautiful dress," he teased. "I'll call you tomorrow to set up a time." He picked up his jacket and walked over to her front door with Lois right behind him. As he reached the door he turned around rather abruptly. "Oh, just one more thing, Lois." Clark took her in his arms, held her close, and kissed her gently and passionately. It was something he had wanted to do from the moment he saw her in that red dress. "Good night, Lois," he whispered.
Lois opened her eyes as he let go of her. He turned back toward the door and opened it. Lois was still feeling pleasantly giddy from his kiss. "Clark," she called softly. Reaching out to put her arms around him as he turned back to face her. She stood on tip-toe and returned his kiss, with a bit of her own passion. "Good night."