Disclaimer: I own nothing.
Thank you, KN for the beta. I have no idea why, but I feel like giving you an apple corer. I suppose you should have apple trees too, but only the ones that produce the Gala or Pink Lady apples. The other ones taste funny to me. But if you like them, I will fly them in for you. :D
So, I kind of like Lois Lane, and I know she isn't very popular. But I like her with Superman, because he wants to be with her. And that's good enough for me. :D
The Nice Guy
It was almost midnight, as Clark Kent stood outside of Lois Lane's apartment. Fighting the butterflies in his stomach, he raised his hand for the fifth time to knock on her door. This time he allowed his fist to actually connect with the wood.
A wary voice called out through the barrier, "Who is it?"
"It's, uh, me…Clark."
The door quickly swung wide open, and the sight of Lois in her bathrobe and with wet hair greeted him. If he were any other man, his heart would have sped up. Still, Krypton physiology did not prevent him from suddenly feeling very warm. Before he could get too distracted, she let out the quietest of sighs, forcing Clark to remember the true reason for his visit.
"Isn't it past your bedtime, Smallville?"
Though a smile was plastered on her face, he could hear the strain in her voice. Her violet eyes were completely dry, but his vision pierced through the surface. Broken blood vessels bore witness that Miss Lane had recently shed more than a few tears. Probably within the last couple of hours.
"I heard what happened, and I couldn't sleep."
Lois raised an eyebrow, making Clark feel ridiculous. What was it with this woman that turned him into a buffoon? He tugged uncomfortably at his collar.
She finally beckoned him into her apartment.
As they walked over to her couch, he tried to clarify his previous statement. "What I meant to say is, I wanted to see how you were doing."
They took their seats on the soft cushions. She faced forward, her legs crossed and resting on the nearby coffee table. Lois waved her hands dismissively, though he noticed she wouldn't look at him. "As you can see, I'm in one piece, so no harm done. Besides, it will make for an exciting and entertaining story."
Clark could see the headlines now: Reporter Bloody Bank Robbery's Sole Survivor. The idea made him cold all over.
And one of the worst things about it was that he had missed everything. Superman had been with Green Lantern and Wonder Woman, saving an island nation from an erupting volcano. He hadn't even known anything was wrong in Metropolis until Diana had pulled him aside during the clean-up.
He had expected her to be smiling at their job well done, but instead her face was lined with concern and worry. Superman placed a comforting hand on her shoulder before asking, "What it is, Diana?"
Shaking his head, he dismissed the nightmarish images those two words had conjured. Even now, he felt ill.
Realizing that Lois was still talking, he channeled all his energy into listening to her.
"It'll be nice for once to be the one making the news instead of writing it. And if I do say so myself, my story is a lot more interesting than most of the stuff we put on the front page. Pulitzer Prize-award winning stuff."
She was babbling. Knowing that she probably just needed things to feel normal again, he offered a few silent nods at the appropriate places.
As she continued talking about the "story of the century", her ordeal came into agonizing clarity. Five masked men toting guns had broken into Metropolis First City Bank just a few minutes before closing, and would he believe it, just as she was about to leave! Most likely assumed the rush hour traffic would keep the police away. There were only a few tellers. He should have seen it. One lady refused to allow them into the vault. Of course, they gave her a bullet for her bravery, but she was something else. Lois probably could have been friends with her. Oh, and the robbers completely lost control of the situation after that. In her expert opinion, they were novices, and as Clark knew very well, Lois was never wrong.
They corralled all the innocent bystanders—roughly twelve people. They randomly shot three of them. She had actually stood next to one of the victims. Blood had splattered on her white skirt. Did he think it would come out, or should she just buy a new one? She should have soaked it the second she got home, but she had been busy with…other things. Anyway, they found a more cooperative teller and herded five of them into the vault. Like cattle. Then the cops showed up. Cowards got so scared they shut the vault, leaving themselves and the rest of the people out there. And then it was just a lot of guns going off. When she closed her eyes, it sounded like fireworks. Craziest Fourth of July celebration ever!
They must have been in that vault for hours. At first, they all tried talking, but then everyone got really tired. One by one they drifted off as the loud pops kept going on outside. She was just falling asleep herself when the cops opened the vault.
Lois concluded her narrative with a small laugh. "Guess I don't need as much oxygen as other people. The cop said I was lucky to be alive. Remind me to start doing my banking online."
The way she could just joke about her harrowing experience shook Clark to the core. He knew the bravado was for his benefit. He had seen the cracks in her story, heard them in her voice, much as she tried to cover them by injecting her ordeal with her characteristic irreverence and pep.
Lois finally turned to look at him and let out a loud yawn. "So, what do you think, Clark? Is it good enough for the front pages?"
His fingernails dug into the palms of his hand. He had almost lost her. How could she be so glib?!
When he didn't answer her, she scoffed, "You're looking at me as if you've never seen me before. Or like I'm going to break."
She was clearly on the edge, and he didn't want to push her over. In a quiet voice, he cautiously asked, "Are you?"
Lois let out a hiss of air in disbelief. "No!" Her fingers were trembling, but when she saw this, she sat on her hands. In a more collected voice, she said, "It's a little known fact, but Resilient is my middle name."
"And here I always thought it was Stubborn as a Mule."
"Ouch, Clark. That really hurt." The tired smile she gave him made Clark marvel. It was all an act, but what kind of inner strength was necessary to put on that show. Probably more than he could hope to have.
He had come here with the intention of declaring his feelings for her. When he had found out that Lois had actually survived, he promised not to let one more second go by without her knowing how important she was to him.
Lois let out another yawn. She had been through so much. It really wouldn't have been fair to unload his feelings on her, Clark reasoned. He began to stand up. "Well, it seems you have everything under control. I should prob--"
"You're leaving?" She gazed up at him and for a moment her mask slipped, and he saw fear mixed with desperation. But then she closed her eyes and flopped back on the couch.
Clark sat back down. "I guess I could stay for a little longer."
"Don't let me keep you."
"Now that I think about it, I really wanted to watch the Late Show. Do you mind?"
Clark reached for the remote, but Lois grabbed it before he could get it. She powered on the television and flipped through the channels, stopping on some cartoon with a duck chasing around two chipmunks.
"I like cartoons too." Clark said.
"Have I ever," she yawned, "excuse me, complimented you on your exquisite taste in television shows?"
"No, I don't believe you have."
"Remind me to do that some time."
Within ten minutes, Lois was asleep. Clark allowed himself to watch her for a few moments before gently lifting her into his arms. She stirred in his grasp, nuzzling her head into his chest. The elation he felt was powerful, though he quickly dismissed it. After all, she was unconscious.
With as little jostling as he could manage, he deposited her on the bed, brushing a stray ebony lock from her face before turning to leave.
He took one step, but was halted by Lois softly saying, "Hey. Aren't you going to say goodbye?"
Thankful that the darkness hid the blush that stole over his cheeks, he walked back over to her bed. "Goodnight, Lois."
In disbelief, he saw her hand reach out. He moved himself so that she easily found his hand. Her fingers caught his wrist and traveled further up his arm, before she tugged, pulling him down so she could hug him.
"Thanks for coming to see me." She rose just a little and kissed him on the cheek. The soft flesh of her lips lingered there a bit longer than the customary peck, or so he thought.
The darkness was complete, but somehow she was looking straight at him.
The violet of her eyes deepened, pupils dilated, and she had a slightly elevated temperature. The furious pounding of her heart beat in his ears.
Does she feel the same way about me, he wondered.
Hoping he wasn't making a mistake, Clark leaned forward.
His mouth was almost near hers when he felt her ask, "Clark, what are you doing?"
She reached over and turned on the light.
"I'm sorry, I just thought…" Clark wished he could melt into the floor. Unfortunately, that was not one of Superman's powers.
"Are you blushing?" Lois let out a laugh. "Don't feel bad. I'm kind of irresistible at the moment, what with that whole damsel in distress thing I have going for me." She had a kind smile on her face, which Clark thought made things worse. He was the guy she pitied, not even considered man enough to have his advances taken seriously. A slap would have been more comforting.
He took his glasses off and rubbed his forehead. "Can we just forget that happened?"
"Are you kidding me? This is one thing I'll never let you live down." He would have given nearly anything to see her smiling like this when he first came here, but he never envisioned it would come at the back of him revealing his feelings to her. Clark was crushed, and try as he might, he couldn't keep the disappointment and hurt out of his voice when he said, "Lois, please."
Her eyes widened as the realization sunk in. "Oh. So this wasn't just one of those 'carried away in the moment'…moments?"
Clark shook his head, giving her an awkward smile.
Lois pulled him over to her bed and had him sit. "Geez, Clark, I'm sorry. I seriously had no idea."
"I don't want to make things uncomfortable for you. Like I said before, can we just forget this ever happened?"
"If that's what you want, of course. But before we do that, can I ask you a few questions?"
The cat was already out of the bag. What did it matter? "Sure. Go for it."
"How long has it…how long have you felt this way?"
"I don't know. A year, maybe two."
Her jaw dropped in shock. "You sure are good at keeping secrets. I had no idea…Um, Clark, why?"
"Why do you like me? I'm hardly ever nice to you." She gave him a tiny smile. "Apart from my good looks and modesty, why would you even give me a second glance? I always pictured you with some Donna Reed type."
"Stay-at-home-mom, doting wife, head of the PTA, house in the country with a white picket fence. A Smallville kind of girl."
"I don't know," he lied. He could list thousands of reasons why he adored Lois Lane. Finally, he settled on, "I've never met anyone like you before, but I don't really feel comfortable telling you more than that."
"I understand." And he could tell that she did.
Having never been this open with her and aware that tomorrow at the office, Lois would be back to her normal self, Clark had to know. "Do you think there is any way you could ever like me?"
He had never seen her eyes quite so soft, or her face so beautiful. It was one of the rare times Lois let her guard down, and Clark would have felt privileged if his heart weren't currently stuck in his throat.
Lois grabbed his hand and gave it a tiny squeeze. "You're a wonderful person, Clark, but I just…" She gave him a pained expression.
"Right, should have known." Clark hastily stood up, only to have Lois scramble out of bed too.
"What's that supposed to mean? Just because I don't like you--" Lois stopped, and the pity was back in full force. Clark liked it better when she was angry.
"Look, I'm flattered that someone like you would be attracted to someone like me, but I've just never thought of you that way."
"Someone like me?"
"You know. The boy next door."
"Someone not like Lex Luthor, Bruce Wayne, or Superman." He knew he sounded bitter, but he couldn't help it.
"I know I've made some poor choices when it comes to men. You're a really great person, Clark, probably the nicest guy I know; it's just that…I'm not sure I can see myself with you. Besides, I'd drive you nuts in the end. You deserve someone better than me. What about Sheila from Classifieds? She's smart and pretty, maybe a tad bit boring, though I'm sure… "
"Thanks, but I'll pass." He stuffed his hands in his pockets and mumbled, "So I guess it's true what they say, 'Nice guys finish last'."
"Claaark," Lois reached out a hand to comfort him, but Clark eluded her.
He gave her a shrug and a weak smile. "Well, I won't bother you anymore." He shuffled to her door.
"Clark, don't be like this."
"I'll see you at work tomorrow. Goodnight, Lois."
He shut the bedroom door and let himself out of her apartment, locking the front door before he left. As he walked down the hall toward the elevator, he heard her yell, "Dammit!" Turning back to her apartment, he scanned the walls and saw Lois angrily slam her nightstand. She dashed her forearm across her glistening eyes before turning off the lights.
To Be Continued
I don't write much SM/LL. If it sucks or is OOC, please don't be too harsh about letting me know. I'm kind of nervous. :D Thanks!