|Wraparound My Heart
Author: Krys Yuy PM
Post-Pandora. Oneshot. “A kind of child’s game. You take a length of ribbon and wrap it around the wrist of the person you desire.” Lois learns of an unusual tradition from an unlikely source. Clois.Rated: Fiction T - English - Romance/Suspense - Clark K. & Lois L. - Words: 5,729 - Reviews: 9 - Favs: 24 - Follows: 4 - Published: 01-01-10 - Status: Complete - id: 5632410
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Wraparound My Heart
Author: Krys Yuy
Prompt: Season 9, PG-13, Faora
Summary: Post-Pandora. "A kind of child's game. You take a length of ribbon and wrap it around the wrist of the person you desire." Lois learns of an unusual tradition from an unlikely source.
Warning: PWP. (Plot? What plot? Get your mind out of the gutter. :P)
Disclaimer: I own none of the characters used. This fic is purely for entertainment purposes only.
Author's Notes: Written for Divine Intervention's 2009 Holiday Ficstravaganza. So… I suck. (Not news.) This is late. Like, two days late and I'm maybe hiding in a corner, beating myself up over it. It doesn't help that I'm a little unhappy about this piece as well. :/ mpluvme, please don't hate me! I still hope you enjoy this small fic, regardless of what I may say. (Ignore me. It's best.) My prompt character is Faora, with special/quick appearances by Oliver and Zod. :P Faora's kinda walking a fine line between deception and truth, and I think that's why I'm quite iffy about how I wrote her. I'm not so hot about my characterization of Zod either. And I imagine Clark acting a certain way as well around Zod… Oi. I'm all over the place. XD;; There are a few loose ends at the end because this is meant to be a sort of snapshot of Clark and Lois during the holiday season, so some things are left open-ended. This fic happens in the course of one day and I see certain things being resolved later on down the road. (I'll probably revisit and expand on this piece later. I have a sketched out idea behind the 'soul band'. -coughsKawatchebraceletcoughs-) I hope everyone had an awesome holiday~! ;D P.S. 'Wraparound' is deliberately one word.
Lois was usually never one for holidays. Not after her mother's death and years gone by of moving from base to base, country to country, alone and left to her own devices more often than not.
It had become a little easier since moving to Smallville. In perhaps the strangest small town in the world, she had found a place to call home. Still, the holidays blended together every now and again, and she always seemed to remember them last minute.
But not this year. This year was different. It would be her first Christmas with Clark. As a couple.
It was hard not to get excited. Even the abundance of holiday cheer flooding the Daily Planet couldn't wipe the slight smile off her face. She found she could tolerate the garlands twisted around the stairs and on the walls, the wreaths fastened to every door, the tiny snowmen, reindeer and elves taking over every available surface. Oliver was having a field day infusing the Christmas spirit throughout the entire DP building.
Though there was red and green every which way she turned, it didn't dampen Lois's good mood. She just needed to drop off her latest article in Brady's 'in' box and she would be free to take one last trip to the stores. Then her Christmas shopping would be done! No more headaches, no more fighting the rabid crowds. And since her partner was elsewhere, she could take a drive past the farm, maybe snoop around for any boxes that happened to be wrapped in bright, colorful paper...
Yes, this year, things were going smoothly for a change. As long as nothing jinxed it–
Lois paused at the doors to the basement bullpen, her eyes zeroing in on the beautiful woman sitting at Clark's desk.
The stranger sat back casually in Clark's chair, observing her surroundings from behind a pair of posh sunglasses with a mild sort of interest. Her light brown hair was pulled back into a slick ponytail, and her long legs were encased in knee high stiletto boots. She wore a black wrap blouse complete with a black skirt that had, of course, a long slit running down one side.
Lois looked down and smoothed over her charcoal pencil skirt and dark blue blouse. She barely managed to wipe the scowl off her face as she approached Clark's desk. "Are you lost?" she asked.
The woman swiveled the chair in her direction and glanced at her from over the top of her sunglasses. Penetrating brown eyes surveyed her critically before the dark lenses covered her expression again. "I'm waiting for –" She paused before she continued, "Clark Kent." She said his name as if it was something unsavory. The tone was subtle, but Lois caught it and her immediate dislike of the stranger shot up several notches.
"You're out of luck because Smallville is out of town on assignment," Lois said. She walked around to her desk and sat in her chair. Brushing aside a toy reindeer, she started gathering the papers she needed to bring home. "So, if you could get your ass out of my partner's chair, that would be great. Thanks."
Lois looked back up a few seconds later and the woman was still there, only now with her head cocked to the side and her mouth set in a neutral line. Even with the sunglasses hiding her countenance, Lois knew the stranger was studying her. She arched an eyebrow in challenge.
"Hmm." The woman picked her handbag off Clark's desk and held it underneath her arm, unfazed by Lois's bluntness. "Then I find myself in need of another reporter. I'd hate for this trip to be wasted."
Lois just wanted the woman out of her general vicinity and out of Clark's chair. She waved dismissively at the rest of the bullpen. "Take your pick," she said. "If you can find someone who's interested in some society fluff piece and not buried deep beneath one of their own stories, you're welcome to them."
"Then do you know someone who would be interested in RAO?"
"RAO?" Lois paused in slipping her papers in her purse. "As in RAO Corporation? The new tree-hugging company acquired under LuthorCorp?"
A slight smile twisted the stranger's lips. "The very one."
Lois's fingers itched for her pen and notepad. "Your connection to RAO being?"
The stranger's smile widened. Lois recognized pride when she saw it and she knew she wasn't going to like her answer. "I'm on the board of directors," the woman replied.
Lois's curiosity skyrocketed. Crap. Damage control. She stood up. "Sorry about earlier," she said, even though she really wasn't. "I'm a little territorial. Plus my mouth tends to run away with me." She reached across her desk and Clark's to hold out her hand. "Lois Lane."
The stranger moved her sunglasses to her forehead, so that her piercing brown eyes became fully visible for the first time. Her smile was gone and her face all at once impenetrable as she placed her hand in Lois's after a brief pause.
"Arrow to Watchtower. Mission complete."
Clark sped over to Oliver, USB in hand, and they both heard Chloe's reply over their bluetooth devices.
"Nice work, Arrow, Blur. Upload the files en route. Looks like you'll both be back in time for some last minute Christmas shopping."
Oliver nodded, his fingers pressed to his bluetooth. "Roger. We should be touching down at eighteen hundred hours," he said. "By the way, your equipment counts as my Christmas present to you, right?"
Clark frowned. "Arrow."
Oliver shrugged and mouthed, What?
"No worries, Arrow. Your gift is doing its job perfectly." Chloe's voice crackled over their wireless devices. "I used my bonus to upgrade the mainframe security system."
It was Oliver's turn to frown. "What bonus?"
Oliver's hand came down as he looked at Clark. "What bonus?"
Clark shook his head and placed his hand on Oliver's shoulder. "Hold tight."
"You give one person access –" Oliver's grumble cut off as Clark supersped them inside the unmarked jet located miles away from the remote LuthorCorp base they had infiltrated.
Oliver wobbled on his feet, but Clark steadied him easily. His friend waved him off and pulled back his hood. "I'll never get used to that," he said, taking off his sunglasses. "Give me a Ducati any day."
Clark ignored his friend's mumbles and took off his leather duster, draping it over the seats. Then he sat at the computer, inserting the USB into the side of the monitor. Oliver pressed the intercom and ordered the pilot to take them home as Clark began uploading the files into the secure Watchtower network.
Oliver came up behind him. "You think this will give us the one-up on Zod?"
"I hope so. I've been meeting with him and the Kandorians nearly every other day, and I'm barely grazing the surface," Clark said. He ran a hand through his hair and leaned back in the chair. "He doesn't trust me."
Oliver clapped his shoulder. "And this is why we have a back-up plan," he said, nodding at the screen. "I can't gain access to the LuthorCorp satellites without alerting Mercy, so let's hope our Girl Friday can break the encryption on these files."
"If she runs into any walls, she has Stuart on speed dial," Clark replied. He stood and moved over to a seat further down as the computer continued its upload.
Oliver joined him in a seat opposite his. The two companions sat for a moment in silence until Oliver finally said, "You're not expecting a bonus, are you?"
"I'm not on your payroll," Clark replied dryly.
The billionaire grinned. "Technically –" Oliver dropped it when Clark gave him an exasperated look. Instead, he asked, "So, did you get Lois a present yet?"
"Wrapped and hidden in the farm, actually," Clark replied, glad to think of pleasanter things for a while now that their mission was over. "I'm not going to give her a chance to find it before Christmas."
"I don't know. This is Lois we're talking about," Oliver commented, his grin turning wry and affectionate. "And you did just go out of town 'on assignment'. Leaving the farm empty. Vulnerable to any curious reporters that happen to pass by."
"She wouldn't." Clark shook his head, but the action slowed as he considered Oliver's statement. He shared a resigned, knowing look with his friend.
They both spoke at the same time. "She would."
Lois straightened in her seat as her eyes swept over her lucky catch of the day. Once Lois had secured the interview, she had suggested they conduct it in a more casual setting. So here they were, two women at Metro Coffee Stop, both studying the other.
Lois thanked the waitress for her coffee and looked down at her tattered notepad, where she had scribbled a few questions that had sprung to mind. She made sure her tape recorder was placed in the center of the table. "So, what exactly is RAO Corporation's mission statement?"
Her expression once again hidden behind her sunglasses, Faora raised a finger to halt Lois's question and took a sip of her cappuccino. "Actually, before we get started, I'd like to know more about you," she said.
Lois's guard went up. "You requested the bright lights, Ms…" She trailed off, but when the woman showed no signs of responding, Lois said, "A last name would go a long way."
"Just Faora is fine."
"Like Cher. Or Madonna." Lois held in her urge to snort. "The lights aren't focused on me today. The spotlight's on you."
"I'd feel more comfortable answering any questions you have if I knew something more than your name… Lois," Faora said.
"We're on a first name basis now?"
Faora smiled. "I would prefer this interview to be less rigid. I'm here to promote the good will of RAO," she said. "A sense of camaraderie provides a more agreeable setting, and the more comfortable I am with my interviewer, the more open I am to questions."
Lois wasn't sure what this woman's deal was, but it was only further stoking her curiosity. Brady never willingly assigned her stories with ties to LuthorCorp. Tess's orders, she suspected. The door seemed to be shut, but if this was her open window, she was taking it and diving through.
"What do you want to know?" Lois asked, though she had no intention of answering honestly if she didn't like the questions. She clicked the 'off' button on the tape recorder.
"Anything you're willing to share," Faora replied.
There was something about her smile. It was meant to be genial, but Lois couldn't shake the feeling that something was off.
But Lois gave nothing away of her suspicions. Instead, she chose a few harmless things off the top of her head. "I can only take so much red and green at a time," she said. She waved in the general direction of the Christmas decorations adorning the city streets. "I live or die by the coffee bean. The only true doughnut is a maple doughnut. And chocolate is heaven sent. Any kind, any flavor." She drank from her mug. "You?"
Faora didn't seem at all displeased by her response. "I've acquired a taste for dark chocolate," she said, "with a hint of mint."
Lois's eyebrow rose as the woman poked at the small cardboard cutout of Santa that served as the centerpiece of the Metro Coffee Stop tables.
"And I confess to not understanding the fondness for this obese man in red," Faora continued.
Lois laughed. "You mean Santa?"
Faora's nose wrinkled in distaste. "Is that what he's called?"
"You don't know ol' Kris Kringle?" Lois asked. She read the blankness on her companion's face even with the sunglasses hiding her eyes. "You really don't." She leaned forward. "Where are you from?"
"Far away," Faora replied, tone placid and cool, "where we don't have little men and strange creatures decorating nearly every store window."
"Winter just wouldn't be the same without the commercial side of Christmas," Lois commented dryly, though she filed away the information that her companion was not from around here. "If you don't celebrate this immortal holiday, then what do you celebrate?"
"I'm not one for celebrations," Faora said. She looked around at the twisting garlands and hanging lights that were currently off. "I have more important things to do with my time."
A giggle floated through the air and both women turned their heads to see a man pecking his girlfriend on the mouth, the couple caught under the mistletoe of the Nibs' n' Quills stationery store.
Lois rolled her eyes and when she turned back to her companion, Faora wore a sharp frown of disapproval. "I take it you're also not a fan of the timeless PDA tradition of kissing under the mistletoe?" she asked.
Faora's gaze came back to rest on Lois. "Such frivolous traditions…" Her eyes shifted to the tiny sprig that hung over the shop entrance. "… are for children. It reminds me of wraparounds."
Faora regarded her carefully before she said, "A kind of child's game. You take a length of ribbon and wrap it around the wrist of the person you desire." She encircled her wrist with the fingers of her opposite hand, the thumb and middle finger touching at the tips. Faora seemed to briefly lose herself in memories. "Once for friendship, twice for love, and thrice for soulmates."
Lois blinked. "Soulmates?"
"A wraparound is a child's version of a soul band," Faora said. "Children, of course, don't fully understand. They almost always end up wrapping the ribbon three times. They have no grasp of the significance behind the word, of the tradition they're imitating."
Faora nodded at the couple who had left the store, their arms linked and faces close, laughing. "Devotion should not be displayed through a trivial amusement," she said. "I do not endorse traditions that treat commitment, loyalty, so casually."
Someone's a little high and mighty. "An overdose of the sweet and sappy might be annoying," Lois replied, "but taken in small portions… it's fun. Especially when you're the one having it."
An unreadable expression crossed Faora's face before she turned to look at the busy street, and Lois didn't know why it felt like she had failed some sort of test. She couldn't shake off the queer sensation. She had come to conduct an interview, but instead, had gotten a very peculiar conversation.
Lois shook her head. She was going to get what she came for. "Now that we've had this enlightening, yet extremely odd heart-to-heart, let's get down to business," she said, turning her shabby notepad to a fresh sheet of paper.
"… yes," Faora replied. "I did come here for an interview, didn't I?" She dipped her head in acknowledgement. "Thank you for humoring me."
Lois forced her mouth into a tight smile. She turned the mini tape recorder back on. "So. RAO's mission statement?"
Once the plane touched down and entered Oliver's private hangar, Clark said his goodbyes and sped to the farm, changing out of his costume into dark jeans and a gray T-shirt. He made sure Lois's present was where he left it, and breathed a sigh of relief when he found it safe and sound. He inspected it though, just to be sure, and it didn't seem like she had gotten to it. No re-wrapping job… yet.
Clark pursed his lips and considered the hiding spot again. After careful deliberation, he grabbed the gift and ran to the barn, hiding it in the upper beams. Hanging from the rafter with one hand, he secured the present, making sure it didn't topple over. Then he let go and fell to the second floor, landing with a light thump.
Brushing off his hands, he smiled. Now to surprise his girlfriend.
Clark supersped to the Daily Planet first. The workday was over, but Lois never adhered to regular hours. After a quick sweep of the bullpen and no whirlwind brunette in sight, he decided to check her favorite coffee place next. He ran to the alley nearest Metro and then walked out onto the sidewalk at normal speed.
As he neared the outdoor tables, his eyes immediately zeroed in on a familiar head of dark brown hair. Just as he was about to call out to her, he noticed she had company. Lois, unintentionally blocking his view, stood and the woman followed suit. They shook hands and the woman held on for a moment longer than necessary. Then, with a nod, she let go.
Lois moved to the side and Clark got his first glimpse of her companion. Sophisticated came to mind first, from her classic style of dress to the proud way she carried herself. As she turned, the stranger caught sight of him and her mouth curved into a wry sort of smirk, and his brow furrowed in confusion.
Until she pushed her sunglasses to the top of her head. He stiffened.
"Lois!" Clark would have supersped to her if he weren't in plain view of all the citizens roaming about. He settled for a speed that was nearly sprinting, but Faora was already crossing the street to the other side. He touched Lois's shoulder and turned her around. "Lois, are you okay?"
"Smallville!" Lois looked up from her notepad, surprised. She clearly hadn't heard him shout her name, having been too engrossed in looking over her notes. "Why wouldn't I be?"
"It's –" What could he say? He couldn't say anything, not unless he wanted to tell her his secret and make her even more vulnerable to his enemies. Right now, she at least had plausible deniability. But that wasn't even serving its usual minuscule comfort, not when he looked across the street and saw Faora watching them.
Clark breathed in deeply and said, "It's nothing. Sorry." Without taking his eyes off the female Kandorian, he pulled Lois close and kissed her forehead. He wrapped a protective arm around her shoulders. "The jet lag must be getting to me."
Clark stared at Faora hard, conveying a warning through narrowed eyes. She returned his look coolly, but gave a slight inclination of the head. Then as a car passed in front of her, she disappeared.
Clark's shoulders relaxed and he pressed another kiss to the top of Lois's hair, the tender action erasing the rest of his tension. Even preoccupied with her notes, Lois noticed something was wrong.
"Hey." She looked up into his eyes. "Is everything okay? Why are you back so soon?"
Clark's gaze flitted to the empty spot across the street before he focused completely on her. He let his uneasy thoughts fade into the background, to be dealt with later. Right now, he just wanted to erase the concern in her expression.
"Everything's fine. I wanted to surprise you," he said. She raised an eyebrow and he grinned. "What? Aren't you happy to see me?"
She squinted at him, but his easy and carefree demeanor had her familiar smirk gracing her lips. "Maybe a little," she conceded. "You are easy on the eyes."
"Oh." He mock-pouted. "Is that all?"
"Well, I am only with you for your looks." She gave him a long, lingering once-over that had his blood heating even as he blushed. His eyes fell to her full lips.
"I have to say, Lois," he began, wrapping an arm around her waist. He pulled her forward so she was pressed flat against him, and ducked down so his mouth was next to her ear. "I am very–" His voice turned husky and gruff, and he felt a shiver run through her. He smiled. "– very hurt."
"Hmm…" Lois turned her head so that their lips were a mere breath away. "Poor Clarkie." A twinkle of lights caught her eye and she turned her head before Clark could lean forward that last inch. "Why are the lights turning on?" She looked around and for the first time, seemed to notice the fading light of the sun.
"Crap! What time is it?" She didn't even wait for him to answer, just started stuffing her pen, recorder and notepad into her purse. She threw on her coat and gave Clark a chaste kiss – disappointing, considering what they were building up to. "Gotta go –"
"Wait, let me come with you –"
Lois evaded him before he could capture her arm and reel her in. "I am determined to use whatever time I have left in this bizarre day to complete my Christmas shopping," she said. "And the added bonus after today: I can work on my new kick-ass article!" That was motivation enough for her.
"Article? What article?" He recalled Faora's sly smile and the glimpse he had of Lois's scribbled notes. "Were you interviewing that woman?"
"Yep. Your loss, Smallville," Lois said. She waved as she turned around. "I'll call you later."
The crowd had already swallowed her up, and Clark sighed. He couldn't get any answers from Lois anyway, not without her wondering why he was prying in the first place. The only other option, then.
Clark rounded a corner into a deserted alley, and in the next moment, was gone.
The leader of the stranded Kandorians smiled to himself before his face smoothed over into an expression more neutral. He turned to face the son of Jor-el, standing a few feet away, the House of El symbol displayed for all to see. The burst of ire that sparked in him at the sight was hidden behind his placid gaze.
"Kal-el. I wasn't expecting you today," he said, noting the displeasure that colored the young Kryptonian's bearing. It was in the stern set of his jaw and the slight tick to his fingers.
Kal-el took a moment to calm himself before he asked, in a quiet tone, "Is there a reason Faora was speaking to Lois Lane?"
Zod's expression was carefully controlled. "My second-in-command is simply promoting the good intentions of RAO Corporation," he said. "And what better promotion than the acclaimed Daily Planet newspaper?"
Kal-el considered his words. "Next time, I ask that you come to me," he said. "I would be honored to write any articles about RAO."
"I sent Faora there for you, Kal-el," Zod replied. "This Lois Lane… She was highly motivated to question her once she realized what Faora was there for. It didn't seem… courteous to refuse."
"I understand," Kal-el said. He stood straight and tall, as if to utilize his full size. "But next time –"
"Whoever I assign will speak only to you," Zod interrupted smoothly. "It will be as you wish it."
He nodded. "Thank you," he said. "I'll be here tomorrow at the usual time."
"I look forward to it," Zod said. "I wish to speak to you about the red sun that orbited Krypton."
Kal-el's expression fluttered and then closed off. He nodded once, sharply, and turned on his heel, walking out of the compound. Zod watched him go and it was only until the door had shut behind Kal-el that he allowed himself to smirk.
"Faora," he called out.
His slim, dark haired second-in-command emerged from the shadows of the warehouse, dressed once again in her military garb. The chains of her dog tags were visible on her neck, her House symbol hidden beneath her tank top.
"Major," she said. She stood with her back ramrod straight, her hands crossed behind her.
He stared at the covered windows of their base, not turning his head once to glance her way. "Kneel," he said, tone authoritative and unbending, "before Zod."
Faora easily slid into the familiar stance – right leg down, left leg up, right arm at front, left arm at back, head bowed. She waited.
"Continue your evaluation of Lois Lane."
"She is ambitious. Determined to be the best," Faora stated, lifting her head so she could look straight. "She speaks her mind with no thought of the consequences."
"Oh?" Zod looked over his shoulder to meet Faora's gaze, a low note of curiosity reverberating in his tone.
"She is willful. A survivor," she continued. "But she lacks proper discipline."
He expected no less from a mere human. "That is easy enough to instill," he replied, unconcerned. "And her thoughts on Kal-el?"
"She cares about him. 'Clark.'" Faora's voice dripped with disgust as she said the human name Kal-el went by. "Kal-el returns her feelings."
"She is one part of the puzzle," Zod mused, crossing his arms behind him as he began to pace. He stopped in front of Faora and stared down at her. "You are to continue correspondence with her. She will be our contact at the Daily Planet. Gain her trust."
"She is already wary. She will keep me at a distance."
"You will find a way," Zod stated, his tone chilly and absolute.
Faora ducked her head. "Yes, Major."
"It is too easy to see into the weaknesses of a human heart. Kal-el will find this out soon enough."
After completing patrol around Metropolis as the Blur, Clark found himself at home in the living room. In an attempt for distraction, he went about wrapping the last of his Christmas gifts to his friends. Only Lois's had been done, days before.
Zod and the Kandorians made contact with her. He didn't know what to do. He was trying to convince them to give humanity a chance, but there was still a part of him that didn't quite trust them, the part who knew what Zod could become, what he and the others did become in that hellish future. He was willing to put more faith in the other Kandorians; perhaps some of them could be persuaded to see Earth how he did – as home. It was telling, though, that his first instinct was to shield Lois from them. If he didn't trust them, then why should they do the same for him?
Clark didn't want Lois to be embroiled in the mess at all. He wanted her safe. He still remembered his fumble from when he had reached out to her as the Blur. Seeing her lying there on the ground, so absolutely still… Fear had swamped him before he had reached out to touch her cheek and felt the low, uneven rhythm of her breath.
He didn't know precisely when it happened, but Lois had become so entwined into everything that made him him that he couldn't imagine life without her. No, that wasn't right. He could imagine. He had seen it through her eyes, the broken version of his future self. He had experienced it firsthand for three desolate weeks, the source of the empty ache in his chest something he had not yet realized, not until he had seen her face through a glass window.
Clark didn't notice someone was at the door, but Shelby sat up and barked, and then there was the loud knocking that came next.
"Smallville! Open up! My hands are full here."
Clark hurried over to the door and let Lois in. Several packages were stacked in her hands and he quickly took them from her. Lois had changed into a red top and blue jeans, something more casual now that she was out of the city.
"Thanks," she said, greeting him with a quick kiss. She smiled and directed him towards the tree they had decorated together earlier that week. "I thought I would drop these off as soon as I finished wrapping so I wouldn't forget. I didn't want to take any chances, now that I have to transcribe my interview."
Clark knelt on the floor and carefully arranged Lois's presents to their friends under the tree. "How did that go? Was she a good interview?" he asked, hoping his voice sounded as nonchalant to her as it did to him.
Lois plopped down on the couch and her eyes lingered from one gift to the next, a peculiar gleam in her hazel irises. "Perfect, aside from the fact that she wanted to chitchat beforehand," she replied in a distracted tone. "Faora – that's her name – was a little… I don't know, strange. Though with a name like Faora, no wonder."
Clark studied her face as she answered, and he could find no trace of fear or anxiety. Instead, there was curiosity and excitement as her gaze roamed over the Christmas tree and presents, and he was amazed at how his insides warmed at the sight.
"Hmm?" She looked at him expectantly, her long hair loose around her shoulders, completely unaware of all the things that had darted through his mind in the past few hours.
Lois had wrapped herself, so fully, so completely around his heart, and she didn't even know it.
He would protect her, at all costs. Clark smiled at her softly and gestured towards the coffee table, which was laden with boxes, tape, and varying sizes and colors of bows and ribbons.
"Could you give me a hand before we grab dinner? I just have a few more to go," he said. What he really wanted was simply to spend time with her, no matter what the task was.
He expected her to decline, but all she did was shrug. "Sure, why not?" she asked. She grabbed the nearest roll of wrapping paper, one complete with smiling snowmen. "You're lucky I ate a snack before I drove here though. Otherwise, I'd be devouring all your sweets right now."
"That's why I keep the pantry fully stocked," Clark replied, grinning. He sat cross-legged on the floor to Lois's left, so that he had the short end of the coffee table as his workspace. "Feel free to devour all the sweets you want."
Lois was unrolling a length of red ribbon, about an inch in width, when she paused at his words. She looked down at the strip of satin material in her hands for a few moments, and he had to wonder what was going through her head. Her eyes flickered between him and the ribbon.
Clark tilted his head to the side, puzzled, when she turned to face him, her expression deliberately blank.
"Let me borrow that for a minute," she said, nodding at him.
It turned out 'that' was his right wrist.
"Lois," he laughed as she positioned one end of the ribbon at the top of his wrist. "What are you doing?"
Lois shushed him, using her left hand to grasp his wrist and hold the ribbon in place. Very meticulously, she began to wind the satin material around and around. At the end of the second rotation, she hesitated. She bit her lip, but then reached for a pair of scissors, cutting the end from the spool. She tucked the edge behind the makeshift bracelet and inspected his wrist. Then, with a nod of satisfaction, she went back to work on the present she had been bundling.
Clark examined the ribbon Lois wrapped around his wrist. This was unusual, even for her.
"What's this for?" he asked, his forehead creased.
Lois folded the wrapping paper carefully over the box, not looking at him. "Maybe someday I'll tell you," she said lightly. Then she glanced at him from under her eyelashes.
Lois's smile was slow and sweet, and Clark, the glossy satin tickling his fingertips, knew she had all of him.