Disclaimer: I own nothing, except a glorious mane of beautiful hair. Just kidding.
Thanks to Kipling, my faithful beta. Today's addition to the enclave: a roller coaster, to ride with whom you choose, though I have a feeling I know who your roller coaster buddy will be. Oh, and I want to give you dipping dots or frozen lemonade. Those are always fun. Cold, but fun.
I'm still very sorry that I have not yet responded to all reviews. I am a terrible, horrible person, and will eventually rectify the problem. Please forgive me and be patient. :D
The Nice Guy
A gala in Metropolis was no different from one in Gotham City. The glitterati were out in full force. The faces were different, but the conversations were just as inane.
As Bruce passed through the crowd, all the sequins and beads on the ladies' dresses nearly blinded him, but he told himself he could get through the night. Wonder Woman was putting in an appearance, and she was obliged to dance with Bruce Wayne.
While Bruce waited for her to arrive, his eyes cast about the room. He would definitely need to avoid the left side of the room. The older society women had decided to congregate over there, no doubt so they could criticize everyone's appearance out of general hearing. He didn't particularly feel like subjecting himself to their games of Cupid either. It amazed him that, given his reputation, any of those women would want him within a hundred feet of their daughters.
As he continued scanning, he saw a familiar face. He stole two champagne flutes from a waiter passing by before making his way over to Lois Lane.
"I thought investigative journalists were too good for these events." Bruce offered her a glass and the two clinked them together by way of greeting.
"We are. But Clark needed a date."
"Where is he?"
Lois stood up on her tip toes and looked about the room. "Don't know. But I got here early."
Knowing he had delayed fulfilling his promise to Diana about helping Superman out, Bruce decided now was the time. Not quite sure how to change the topic without drawing her attention, he decided to be direct and to the point. At least that way, he'd be done with it sooner rather than later. "So, you ever thought about dating Kent?"
Lois, who had been sipping her champagne, coughed loudly. Bruce patronizingly patted her on the back, trying not to smile.
When she recovered, Lois said, "That came out of nowhere."
"You two are constantly together. Might as well get something out of it."
"Wow, Bruce, usually you are more subtle. If you must know, Clark and I are already dating."
The news came as a welcome surprise. At least now Diana couldn't expect him to give Clark any pep talks. Lowering his voice he said, "I take it that the allure of Superman proved too much for you."
"How did you know I knew he was Superman?"
"You didn't think the League would find out? Clark told us that very day."
"That's nice," she said unimpressed and unembarrassed by the revelation. "Anyway, I liked Clark before I found out. And why are you so concerned anyway? You never struck me as the matchmaker type."
She took another sip of her champagne before changing the subject to him. He was expecting it. Lois was never one to give information without expecting something in return. "Haven't seen you in the papers recently."
"I've been busy."
"Who's the lucky girl?"
"Who said there was only one?"
"Please, Bruce. I can see through the act. And your silence is a dead giveaway. Bruce Wayne only talks about things he doesn't care about. She must be something pretty special if you aren't willing to go out in public with her."
Lois laughed. "Always the king of understatement. I guess that's Bruce-speak for mind-blowingly spectacular."
Bruce shrugged. He had no intention of telling her things were much better than that.
"So are you happy with Clark?"
He could see she was surprised by the question. She opened her mouth to speak, then closed it. Taking a sip of champagne, she tried again.
"Yes. Sometimes I still can't believe that we're actually together."
"I suppose it would take some getting used to."
"Actually, it's been very easy. That's the unbelievable part. It's never been this easy for me. There are times when I just want to pick a fight just because things are going so well. How dysfunctional is that?"
Bruce shrugged noncommittally, though part of him understood. "You should probably resist that urge."
"You think?" Lois joked back. "I guess I'm so used to disappointment—no offense--"
"—that it's hard for me to feel like this is normal. Or that it won't disappear. Or more likely, that I won't blow it. I don't want to screw things up."
Bruce took a sip of his champagne, regarding Lois thoughtfully over his glass. "I'm sure you will do fine. Besides, Kent is so besotted with you, I'm sure he doesn't care what you do. "
"But I do." Lois shook her head in disbelief, a slight blush crawling over her face. "I can't believe I'm saying this to you but…I want to be…"
"Worthy of his affections?"
Lois practically snorted in laughter, dropping her forehead into her free hand. "It sounds so ridiculous when you say it like that, but, yeah. I mean, he's so perfect, it would be disgusting if it weren't so utterly attractive. I'm afraid he's going to wake up one day and realize what a mistake he's made."
Bruce knew the feeling. It was the last barrier that had kept him from Diana. Bruce laughed inside, in spite of himself. He was about to give Lois relationship advice. If only Diana could see him now. "Lois, you are a wonderful person, you know that, right?"
Lois blinked in disbelief at his words. "Uh, sure."
"So this next thing I'm going to say isn't a reflection on you. Ok?"
"Wow. Since when have you become so thoughtful?"
"Do you want my advice or not?"
"Sometimes we get things we don't deserve. And no matter what we do, we will never be able to earn them."
"How do you let yourself accept that? I've never felt unworthy in my life, and now, it's a daily occurrence. I want to feel like I'm contributing something to this relationship, rather than taking all the time."
"I'm sure if you asked Clark, he would say the same thing about himself."
"But he's Clark. He thinks the best of everyone."
"Clark probably knows you better than anyone. He isn't blind. Or stupid. If he didn't want to be with you, he wouldn't be with you. And if he knew how inadequate you felt, he'd probably blame himself for not showing you how much he appreciated you."
"I know, I know. You're right, but it can be really hard not to focus on my inadequacies. After all, I'm dating…you know who."
"Just don't make the mistake of thinking that the barriers you put up against Clark are protecting him. It might feel noble, but it's just another form of self-preservation. The more you focus on yourself, the less you will be able to appreciate what he is giving you. And your relationship won't be about you and Clark anymore, but about you and your image."
He could tell that Lois knew he was right. She lifted her hands in exasperation and defeat. "Since when have you become so wise about relationships?"
Bruce smirked, "I watch Dr. Phil."
His smirk turned into a smile when Lois rolled her yes. "Fine, keep your secrets. I'll find out who she is eventually."
Bruce shook his head, a slight smile on his lips.
"Don't mention it. So how serious are things between you and Kent?"
Lois stared down warily at her glass of champagne. "Well, if I ever get over my hang-ups, I think this could go all the way."
Bruce lifted his eyebrows in pleasant surprise. "Strong words from a confirmed bachelorette."
"What can I say? He's pretty super."
They both smiled drolly at the pun.
"Just go easy on him. He's a good man."
"The best. Don't worry, I'll play nice."
Further conversation was interrupted by a tap on Bruce's shoulder.
"Hello, Mr. Wayne."
"Ah, Wonder Woman." He frowned as he looked her over. "I see you've foregone your usual uniform."
She was wearing a backless number, which dipped dangerously low in the back. The black silk clung to her like a second skin. "Is something wrong with what I'm wearing, Mr. Wayne?" Bruce fought the urge to smile. She looked gorgeous, and she knew it.
"Don't worry. You look great. But if given the choice between your uniform and your current outfit, Bruce would choose your briefs and bustier any day," Lois offered in explanation.
Bruce silently thanked the reporter for her bluntness. It was responsible for the heightened color currently creeping across Diana's cheeks. He paused to admire it, but stopped when he saw Lois eyeing him curiously. Her purple eyes darted back and forth between the pair, before she gave Bruce a knowing smirk.
"Wonder Woman, Lois Lane. Lois Lane, Wonder Woman." The two women shook hands, and Diana smiled widely. "It's nice to meet you, Ms. Lane. Please, call me Diana."
Lois nodded her head in deference to the taller woman. "And call me Lois. Any friend of Bruce is a friend of mine." Lois took Bruce's unfinished glass of champagne and gave it to Diana. "So how long have you two known each other?"
"You don't have to answer her questions, Diana. In fact, Lois is a reporter for the Daily Planet. Be careful what you tell her," Bruce jokingly interjected, though he meant every word.
"Bruce would have you believe the worst about me," Lois said.
Diana leaned in conspiratorially. "I promise I won't listen to a word he says."
As the two ladies continued chatting, Bruce felt Clark approach.
"Glad you could make it to the festivities, Mr. Kent."
"You too, Mr. Wayne." Clark shook his hand absentmindedly, too distracted by Lois. And much to Bruce's amusement, Lois didn't seem to be doing any better. He guessed she had never seen Clark in a tux. For some reason, women believed the black suits made men highly irresistible. It was one of those ridiculous little mysteries that didn't warrant any further thought.
"I hear you and Lois are an item."
Clark rubbed the back of his neck and avoided eye contact with Bruce. "Yeah, it's a recent development."
"Well, congratulations. You look like a new man. Certainly much better from the last times I saw you."
Clark gave him friendly smile. "I was having a…rough time back then. But things have improved."
"Good to hear. I hope it stays that way."
"So do I."
Bruce decided to make everyone happy. Turning to the ladies, he said, "Much as I'd love to continue this conversation, I promised Wonder Woman a dance."
By now the two women had been listening to the men converse. Lois waved Bruce and Diana away. "Don't let us keep you. Besides, I have some things I need to discuss with Clark. Diana, it was nice meeting you."
"You too, Lois."
As Bruce led Diana past the two reporters, Lois said in a low voice, (though not low enough for Diana and Clark to miss), "I like her. Excellent choice, Bruce."
Clark's eyes widened at the revelation, but he didn't say anything, just gave Bruce a happy smile.
It was nothing in comparison to the smug grin Diana had on her face. As Bruce led her to the floor, Diana said, "I like her too. Do you think Clark made an excellent choice as well?"
His only answer was to draw her close to him, making sure his hands were splayed out across her back. As they swayed in time with the music, they took a turn about the room.
Diana kept stealing glances at the two reporters.
"They look really happy."
Bruce twirled her in his arms, and they glided across the floor, her back to his chest. Taking advantage of their positions, he spoke in her ear, "How long have you known they were together?"
She turned her head, and he saw the playful glint in her eye. "Clark told me that same day."
"Were you ever planning on letting me know?"
"No." Her mouth was so tantalizingly close, but there were too many onlookers. As furtively as possible, Bruce led her away from the crowd and out of doors.
They entered a large yard that contained an English garden, complete with a maze of shrubberies, all decorated with white lights. Leading her through the mini labyrinth, they made it to the middle, where a large fountain was on display. Its bubbling water was lit up by the rays of the moon. The quiet rush of cascading falls provided the perfect backdrop for what he had in mind.
It seemed Bruce wasn't alone in his thoughts. Diana backed him up against one of the hedges, pinning his arms to his sides.
She brought her mouth close to his, and just when he thought she was going to close the remaining distance, she pulled back. "I heard what you said about Clark."
Uninterested in continuing the conversation, he leaned forward, trying to stop her from talking.
"Aren't you going to ask me what I heard?"
"I already know what I said. But just to humor you…what did you hear?"
From the devilish spark in her eyes, Bruce suspected he was in for a hard time.
Instead she wrapped his arms around her, setting his hands at the base of her back and gazed fondly at him. "I heard you tell Lois to take it easy on him. That he's a good man. Pretty nice for a guy who says he doesn't exactly do nice."
Her blue eyes were piercing, communicating just how much she appreciated him and what he had done. Unable to bear the adoration he saw there, he lowered his mouth to her shoulder, dropping light kisses across her silken skin. In a gruff voice, he replied, "My girlfriend made me."
Diana took his chin in her hands and made him look at her. "No one forces you to do anything. And I didn't see anyone twisting your arm."
"She has ways of making me do things against my will, even when I think she isn't around."
Bruce's heart lurched as her lips ghosted over his. "And what if she wanted you to kiss me?"
"I'd have to listen."
Diana's eyes drifted shut, and Bruce quickly forgot his embarrassment at being caught playing the good guy.
As Bruce brought his mouth to hers he found himself admitting that maybe nice guys didn't always finish last.
And that's that. As always, thanks for reading and reviewing.
To those without fanfiction screen names (or those who opt not to use them):
DJ- Hola! You wouldn't happen to be the oldest sister from Full House? :D Sorry, my inner geek/dork needed to be expressed. Thanks for reviewing!
Decon- Howdy! Thanks for the kind words. I like to think I'm a talented writer, but I don't want to get a bloated head. There's always room for improvement. Case in point, my characterization of Bruce and Diana. For me that was completely natural, but I think I've built them up into my head as some super couple who perfectly express everything that is lovely and good in a romantic relationship. :D I'm sorry it didn't float your boat. I'm actually surprised that I didn't get chastised by more people for making the third chapter too saccharine, but I guess Clark gets a little bit more slack when saying and doing incredibly romantic things than Bruce does. Oh well, that's the image Bruce has cultivated for himself, and we all must live with it (much as I try to subvert that image!). Lol. Thanks for reviewing.
d d d- ;D Ciao! I didn't know there was a difference between SM/LL and Clois. I learn something knew every day. :D Yeah, Lois is the biggest "denialer" ever. At least in my mind. And yeah for melting! I'm such a romantic schmuck, if there isn't melting at the end, I don't want to read it! Unfortunately, I will not be able to give anyone's reaction to the SM/LL relationship. I don't think I know enough to actually get a feel for it, but I would imagine some shock, at least on Jimmy's end. He's probably thinking, "Poor Clark." Maybe I will take another stab at the SMLL relationship, but it wouldn't be until I actually learned more about it. This one was kind of a spur of the moment thing borne out of watching some of the Superman cartoons. Sad thing was, I only really watched like two episodes and stopped to write the story. I'm just trying to finish all my little stories, so I can fully devote my brain to finishing Stranger. Anyway, I'm rambling. Hope you are doing well! Thanks for reviewing.
;) :) :)- Yeah for happy faces! They look so friendly. I hope this chapter appeased them. I would hate to see them sad. And Clark is a big sweetie pie. I hope there are more like him out there. :D Thanks for reviewing!