originally posted Zoomway's Message Board
Lois pulled the ticket from the receptacle and tapped her steering wheel impatiently as the barrier lifted. She followed the curving maze of the parking ramp higher and higher until she finally found a space worthy of her precious Jeep. She shut off the ignition and climbed out of the car. After unconsciously checking the door handle to make sure it was locked, she secured her purse strap on her shoulder and began walking toward the elevator.
Crossing the yard at a brisk pace, she began mentally going over her notes. Last Friday night had marked the 2nd Annual Golden Gate Ball. Perry had insisted that she and Clark attend on behalf of the Planet, as they were being touted as Metropolis' top reporting team. She still publicly grimaced at the posters on the sides of the bus stop stands.
Oh, you know you like it>
Misery loves company, as we all know, so when Clark asked what time to pick her up, she'd cut her eyes and boldly told him, "When pigs fly," and stalked off.
Anyway, they'd ended up arriving separate. Much to her surprise, though, Clark had not come alone.
Sure, she'd arranged for an escort, but she truly hadn't expected him to do the same. For most of the night, they mingled, posed for pictures, and answered questions about some of their major stories. Somehow, it bothered her that he didn't show any animosity over her not agreeing to come to this event with him. In between all of this, Clark kept being pulled away by his overzealous date, a bronzed red-haired woman with green eyes named Josephine, who, by the way, was doing a great job of flirting with her partner.
For the most part, she ignored the pair, and engaged in her own amusement by dancing with many of Metropolis' finest, until the band struck a high-tempo Latin beat. Receiving the appreciation from her current dance partner, Lois smiled and turned to head back to her table and her date, when she noticed that while other couples weren't dancing, instead of moving off of the dance floor, they were beginning to form a loose circle around the center of the dance area. Curious, she slipped through until she was able to see what was holding this audience captive. What she saw caused her right hand to curl into a tight fist at her side, although she didn't notice it.
In the middle of the floor, a grinning Clark was engaged in a loose salsa with his escort. They moved fluidly together, and he spun her around with ease. Her limberness was not lost on Lois, and although she wanted nothing more than to turn around and go back to her table, she couldn't pull herself away. Later, after the music changed and the applause sated, Lois remarked to Josephine- 'call me Josie'- and Clark on her expertise.
Amongst their laughter and annoyingly overlapped sentences, Lois eventually found out that Josie was a dance instructor at Met U. Not long afterwards, the band announced its final set and the redheaded siren dragged a shrugging Clark back to the floor to finish the night.
Now, as Lois entered the Arts and Humanities building, she commended herself on tracking down Josie's teacher's certification information. It was her duty as a friend to get to know just exactly who this woman, who was showing so much interest in her partner, was. She had called up this woman, who was encroaching on her territory, because, if she made Clark happy, then she was supposed to be happy too.
Josie was a bit too pleased to talk to her, sounding a whole lot like an eager girlfriend trying to get to know everything she could about her love interest. Lois felt like she wanted to gag, and inexplicably felt a gnawing pain in her chest.
That's it. No more leftover burritos for breakfast> she chided herself.
But she owed it to Clark. That, and she had a million questions for 'Red', starting with 'What are your intentions?'
Now I sound like an overprotective Father!>
And, in fact, she was having protective feelings about her partner. Clark had a big heart. He was genuine and honest, probably the last of his kind. A fact that made him endearing, if not a bit naïve. He didn't deserve to be hurt.
Lois knew from experience that in order to get close enough to get truth out of Miss Tango, she'd have to gain her trust, and make her think she was a friend to them both. If she came off as a threat, she would be cut off, possibly even by Clark. At that thought, the pain returned in her chest.
"I will never eat burritos again," she muttered as she opened the door to the rehearsal room that Josie used for her evening class.
"Lois! Come! It is so good that you could make it! To think, I am able to teach you something!"
Lois ground her teeth together and forced herself to grin in response as she was pulled into a social hug. Nodding to the continued conversation Josie was beginning, she walked along the back wall and found a place to set down her jacket and purse. Feeling hairs bristle on the back of her neck, Lois turned, knowing someone was watching her, and found herself meeting the deep, soulful, and familiar eyes of Clark Kent.
"Oh! Isn't it wonderful!" Josie raved on, following her look. "Clark comes to help me with my class. He's a savior- my own personal hero!"
There's always a surprise in every investigation…> Lois thought to herself.
"I didn't expect to see you here, Lois," Clark smiled, walking up to her.
"Yeah, well, that little performance you put on the other night made me want to sharpen my skills…" she replied, hating to have to admit to some kind of failure, but needing to keep him from knowing the truth.
Clark's head tilted back slightly as he laughed aloud. "Just can't stand not being the center of attention, huh?" he teased.
Had it been anyone else, Lois would have shown him one of her sure fire Tae Kwon Doe moves, great for humbling pompous characters, but somehow Clark's gentle chiding made her laugh at herself.
"Well, I for one am looking forward to this," he said, as he smiled, and winked before striding across the room to a chair next to the portable stereo.
Josie spun into the center of the room, causing Lois to raise an eyebrow at her exuberance. She glanced in Clark's direction to see if he noticed, but he was studying the jacket of a CD case. Josie gave a short speech introducing herself, telling a little about her history, and talking about the class. When done, she lined everybody up across the room and walked through the basic pattern of the steps.
"Ok, for those of you who are familiar with ballet, we start in the standard two position, and for those who don't know ballet, just stand relaxed. Guys, that's like when you're standing at attention in the restroom," she gushed, using humor at an attempt to make everyone comfortable.
It's hard not to like her, but I don't… not really,> Lois thought grimly. As the group began to mimic Josie's steps, Lois followed along stiffly.
"Right, step back, two- three, and up, two - three, back, two - three, up, two - three… Ladies, don't worry too much about the hips right now, just get the footwork first. The hips follow the knees, so don't force it. Plus, when we turn the music on - you won't know what hit you! Keep going! And back, two - three…"
After a few more minutes of doing the steps dryly, Josie finally stopped the torture, and allowed DJ Jazzy Clark to turn on the music.
Why am I being so sarcastic tonight? I'm getting sick of myself.>
Beginning to move again with the rest of the class, Lois dropped her head and surreptitiously watched Clark from behind her eyelashes. Where did he learn to dance?> she asked herself. She grimly wondered if Josie had been his personal tutor.
A soft touch on her shoulder startled her thoughts. "That's it Lois! You'll get it!" Josie said, as she glided past. Lois noticed that her introspection had caused her to fall out of step with the rest of the group. Shooting a grudging glance at the retreating back of the dance instructor, she did a quick step to match the class.
"Very good! Everyone, that was excellent. Now, I want to show you how to break from that step into the side step. This is going to eventually lead into the turn, but you can do a lot of things from here. Like this," Josie said demonstrating the step to the side.
"Or the half spin, which I particularly enjoy, like this." She did the step, flinging her hair as she twisted her position to an open stance before stepping back and repeating it on the opposite side.
"And eventually, this!" She grabbed Clark and they easily did a short step into a turn.
Dutifully, the class copied the side step for a few minutes before she stopped them.
"Okay, good. Before we get too far into that, I want to introduce partner dancing, because that is what it's all about," she beamed.
She directed them to partner up, telling the men to stand in a line opposite the women. Unsurprisingly, Lois was standing alone, as the other students were already familiar with each other, and had probably come to the class together. Feeling somewhat relieved, she stepped back, ready to sit the remainder of the class out, giving her a better chance to observe.
"Oh Lois, that's okay- That's what Clark is here for! He always steps in when someone needs a partner…"
Really!- Shut up, Lois.>
A startled Clark looked up from his position where he was leaning against the wall and smiled at her when he realized what he was supposed to do. Righting himself, he grinned as he walked over to her.
Wow.> She thought, taking in his tight black tee-shirt and snug black pants. Josie described the steps for the partners, and instructed them to practice. Clark held out a hand, and, when she took it, pulled her into the stance. The confident expression on his face was not one she was used to seeing, and for some reason her stomach muscles contracted repeatedly. Damn burritos…>
Disconcerted, she fumbled when he took the first step, and he stopped, allowing her to catch her balance, holding firmly to her hand, and tightening his grip on her waist. His large hand spanned her side, sending heat radiating through her body. She drew in a sharp breath and met his grin with her own.
"You ready now?" he asked.
Arching an eyebrow at him in response, Lois flipped her hair over her shoulder and squared her shoulders, meeting his challenge. He stepped toward her again, and she matched his tempo, stepping back, and then forward, all while maintaining the original distance from him. Somewhere in the background, she heard the music start up and began adding a twist to her step in time with the beat.
"It seems somebody knew how to dance all along…" Clark said lowly. "Why are you really here, Lois?"
"Where did you learn to dance like this?" she asked, avoiding answering his question by firing one of her own.
"I spent some time in South America, and you know, when in Rome... Then when Josephine asked me to help out… wait a minute. Did you think… Lois, are you jealous?" he countered with a mischievous gleam in his eye.
"Me, jealous! Ha!" She opened her stance and stepped away, still keeping in line with his step. I am jealous. What does that mean?>
He laughed and pulled her back into his reach when she spun out of the half turn. Belatedly, she noticed that this reconnection brought her closer than she'd been before, and suffered an intake of breath when a forward step brought her thigh in contact with his the inner thigh of his base leg.
They continued in that pace for a while longer, with Lois increasingly noticing the contact their legs were engaging in. She felt a slight pressure on her side, leading her to change her step, and stepped into the sidestep, which resulted in inserting more space between them. Feeling both a relief and a loss from the move, she was a bit surprised to see that Clark was no longer smiling, but had a slightly determined expression set on his face.
Unthinkingly, she lifted the hand that was positioned on his shoulder and touched his jaw line, near an almost invisible muscle twitch.
Was that a gasp?> Something familiar tugged at the back of her mind at the sight of his face with this expression, but before she could investigate it further, she was being spun in a loose circle around her partner, his hand holding hers above her head.
A surprised yelp escaped her lips at the sudden move, and ended in a giggle. This was turning out to be fun. After the turn ended, she reached a hand up to his neck to stabilize herself. His arm instinctively wrapped around her waist, and she found herself pressed against the length of his muscular body. She felt a pronounced fluttering deep in her belly, and resisted the desire to entwine her fingers in the soft hair just above her hand.
Her other hand, had somehow interlaced fingers with his, and was being held securely against his chest. She felt the deep throbbing of his heart resounding throughout her body. Or is that me…>
Just as quickly as she had been thrust into that position, she was pushed out of it, again gaining space between herself and her partner. They went through a series of half turns, which took her from his right side holding with one hand, to his left side, holding with the other hand.
After pulling her back close for a quick eight count, he tipped her back for a dip. As she felt herself leaning, Lois hooked her left leg around his lower body, causing both a lower dip and an increased intimate contact. Clark pulled her back up. Now both of their hands were clasped between them, and they continued to step in the salsa pattern.
Clark grunted and said, "I didn't know you knew how to do that."
His voice seemed an octave lower than usual, and it pulled at something buried deep inside her heart.
Breathing heavily, but not entirely convinced that it was from the exertion of dancing, she replied, "I didn't either… I mean, know that you… I didn't know you could do that either."
She bit her lower lip trying to calm herself, and looked into his eyes. "I took dance when I was younger… and in high school. A little bit in college, but it's been years." She took in a breath and exhaled slowly, "I guess its coming back to me now."
What are you doing! Red alert! Step away from the man immediately!> She wanted to listen to her conscience, but something in his eyes challenged her to stay. Never one to bow to a challenge, she continued dancing.
In fact, when challenged, she normally took the offensive, which may explain why she let go of his hands and stepped closer. Their bodies were barely an inch apart, but they weren't touching. Somehow though, the electricity that was forming between them made up the difference, and as they continued to move in unison, she felt tingles all over. A stray hand yeah right> brushed against his lower abdomen, and they both let out tight sighs. They gazed at one another, their breath meshing into its own tango between them.
"Lois," Clark mumbled, his voice sounded strained, and he closed the distance between their bodies. The music faded, and at that point, she remembered that they were in a dance class. If Clark was actually involved with Josie, she was more than likely one pissed off lady right about now. Lois stepped back to a safe distance and glanced around the room, ignoring the amused looks from the other students. She stopped when she met the gaze of the instructor.
"Well! You all seem to have gotten the hang of that," she said, clearly eyeing Lois. Her voice was as energetic as usual, but something seemed to flash in her eyes. Oops!> Lois thought, but an unexplainable glee overpowered her guilt.
"Believe it or not," Josie continued. "That is it for tonight. I try to end early on the first night- this was mainly an introduction to the basic steps. Okay, well, I'll see you next week!"
Lois didn't know if it was true, but she couldn't quite bring herself to care about it too much. "Water," Clark coughed beside her. "I'm going to go get some water."
She felt like skipping, or doing a cartwheel or something, but instead she glided over to her purse and coat and moved out of the room silently. It's probably not a good time to thank her for the class,> she thought evilly. You are so bad.>
In the hall, she slipped her coat on, and headed out the building to find her car. I should analyze the situation, debrief myself, and come to a conclusion on my findings. > She laughed aloud and shook her head.
Ok. This is too big to leave alone. What does this mean about your feelings for Clark? For his feelings for you? It was just a dance… why are you so giddy?>
"Not tonight!" She sang aloud to herself. Nope, tonight she just wanted to revel in the feeling of being desired. Reality would come quickly enough in the morning at the newsroom. Just one night of the warm, fuzzy feeling she was floating on. Was that too much to ask?
Driving in her car to the pay booth, she tapped a lively beat on her steering wheel; much different from the impatient one she'd arrived with. She paid the parking fee smiling, and hummed on her way home. Once there, her skip turned into a slow trot, as she made her way to her building entrance. For once, she was looking forward to the promised dreams.
She stopped short when she saw the dark figure sitting on her steps.
"How'd you get here so fast?" she asked him.
Clark shrugged and stood up to meet her. "I ran."
Her eyes narrowed with unbelief, but her euphoria at seeing him pushed the doubting thought away. "Shouldn't you be talking to someone right now…"
"Huh? Who?" He looked adorable when he was perplexed.
"Well after the dancing tonight… I mean, she didn't look too happy about how we… about how close…"
"Why should she care?"
"Aren't you two…?"
"Well by the looks of it, she wanted to be," Lois said tilting her head to the side, watching him for a reaction.
"You think so? Hmm…" He brought a hand to his chin, rubbing an invisible beard. He took a step closer to her and looked her in the eye. "Do you really want to talk about her?"
"No… I guess not." But I don't really want to face this thing about 'us' right now either… there go the dreams.> Lois sighed and tucked a stray hair behind her ear.
"I thought maybe we could finish our dance…" he said.
"Out here?" she muttered sarcastically after a long pause, throwing a cautious glance in his direction.
A slow smile broke out on Clark's face, and he licked his lips. The action made her knees feel week. She closed her eyes as she felt his hand slide inside her jacket and to her waist when she appeared to stumble.
She imagined him leaning closer, the feel of his soft hair brushing against the side of her face as he bent to kiss her neck. She imagined that his lips would be warm and moist, following the light touches of cool fingertips brushing her hair out of the way. Her lips parting as she felt his breath traveling down her jaw line, waiting to receive his kiss upon her full and ready lips.
Surprised, she realized that she did feel hot breath near the corner of her mouth, and she ran her tongue along the outer edge of her mouth. She became still when the tip met with something soft and inviting that definitely wasn't attached to her body. She fought back a whimper when she felt the shuddered breath expel against her face. She could barely stand still, and found herself reaching to place a hand on his chest… anything to make contact with him.
She briefly wondered if this was what it felt like to be high. Yeah, high on love.>
That thought made her step back as her eyes fluttered open. Her hand was still on his chest, and he still had a hand on her waist. The look in his deep brown eyes as they studied her in the moonlight made her shift her stance uncomfortably. There was so much to talk about, and with the way she was feeling now, it probably wasn't a good idea to let him come inside.
She glanced over his shoulder to the door, and then back down to the hand on his chest. What the hell, jump in…>
"Eh hmm… Dance?" she managed through her tight throat.
He grinned and gently removed her purse from her shoulder, placing it behind him on the top step. Offering an open hand to her, he bowed slightly, and said, "Shall we?"
Giving him more than just her hand when she reached out to accept his invitation, she threw all doubts, fears, thoughts, and caution to the wind. She began to dance.