A/N: Well, I wanted to write a one-shot to give us the Crossfire kiss reaction we didn't get. It didn't come out quite as I thought it would; kinda took on a life of its own. Not sure how I feel about it, but...well...here it is!
Her Last First Kiss
Lois paced back and forth in front of her desk, doing her best not to look over at the ad on her desk. She tried to sit, to relax, but she had barely sunk into her chair before she was on her feet again. People were starting to notice her agitation, so she forced herself to stop her back and forth movement and whirled, snatching the ad off her desk to stare down at it in disgust.
How could they not have decided to go with her? Lois was witty, she was charming, she was funny. And on top of all that, she'd knocked that audition out of the park! How could they have decided that they wanted to go with Catherine "Cat" Grant instead? So blondes tested better with morning audiences! Still, the prim and perfect Cat didn't hold a candle to the much more exciting Lois Lane; how could they not see that?
She felt her entire body still as she stared down at the photograph of the blonde woman blowing a kiss to the camera, and she sighed heavily, the rage that had been slowly building within her draining just as quickly. In an instant, it was gone.
Damn it. Why did it have to be Cat? She stared at the pretty blonde features, her heart sinking as she remembered Clark's blind date with the woman in the photograph. Lois had been hoping Clark's date would be dowdy and boring and perhaps just a little socially awkward. Perhaps it had been petty, but Lois had secretly hoped that his date might accidentally spill her during lunch or perhaps drop a bite of food on her blouse.
Instead, who had shown up but the shining and benevolent Cat Grant? Mother Fricking Teresa in six inch heels, with her overachieving two doctoral degrees in…what…saving little puppies the world over and helping little old ladies cross the street? Damn it.
Lois was upset that Cat had gotten the job she'd wanted, but she forced herself to admit – at least to herself – that she was also upset (perhaps even more upset) at who took the job from her. Of course it had to be Cat. Would Lois be quite this upset if it had been anyone else?
Cat, with her time in the Peace Corp and who two doctoral degrees. Who had sashayed onto the scene with that slightly awkward smile, her charming stories about how she was socially inept. Who had stolen that smile from Clark's lips as they chatted over tossed salads and overpriced plates of rigatoni. As far as Lois knew, Clark had not made plans to follow up with a second date…but what if he did? What if he'd felt a connection with her between her stories of washing oil off penguins and nursing little baby harp seals back to health with the glow of her benevolence?
She was the perfect match for Clark, who – for all that Lois teased him – was the best person Lois had ever known. His ability to always see the best in people might have driven her nuts a time or two in the past, but it was also…admirable. Lois had a tendency to look at the world around her and see the seedy underbelly, the dirty lies and corruption that needed to be exposed to the world. Clark looked around and saw the world for its potential, people for who they could be, and Lois wished she could make people live up to the hope he had for them.
God, she loved Clark. She loved him so fiercely that at times it took her breath away, and it took every ounce of her willpower every single day to hide how she felt. She'd learned at her cousin's wedding that she couldn't ever show him how much she cared about him. She had to bury it deep down inside of her, ignore it, pretend it didn't exist. That the last person she could ever confess her feelings to was Clark himself.
Oh, she didn't blame him for what had happened. It had been her – her fault for stupidly letting herself believe something that she knew couldn't be true. She should have known that she would never be to Clark what he was to her. But for one moment, she's let herself believe. She'd let down her walls, let him in. It had only been at the last minute that she'd caught herself and had managed, somehow, to keep her heart from being completely broken. But she couldn't forget that, for one minute, she'd let down her walls and let Clark in. And though her heart hadn't been broken completely, it had been badly bruised by the experience.
She couldn't go through that again. Dealing with the aftermath of that dance, watching Clark pull away from her, realizing that he didn't love her the way she loved him…it had hurt her. She just couldn't deal with that sort of pain again. And that had been after one simple dance, one moment that she'd let herself believe that he might care for her the way she wanted him to.
So she couldn't tell him how she felt about him, or even let on, because if something like that happened again…she didn't think she could bear it. No, she knew she wouldn't be able to.
But of course he would fall in love with someone someday, when he decided to take a chance on love again. And every once and a while, she thought that maybe he could even fall in love with her. Biting the inside of her lower lip, Lois pondered the type of woman Clark would fall in love with, and she recognized that Cat would fit the bill perfectly. Someone who matched Clark's optimism and hope. Hell, Cat practically had multi-colored unicorn beams shining out of her ass.
It wasn't that Lois thought she was a bad person. She knew she wasn't. But she recognized her failings for what they were. She didn't suffer under any illusions that she was perfect, some sort of paragon of virtue. She knew she could be arrogant, judgmental, reckless… She cut off her internal monologue of flaws before the length of the list depressed her completely.
At any rate, if anyone was going to make a list of the perfect people for Clark, Lois figured she sure as hell wouldn't be a frontrunner for the prime position. Hell, she probably wouldn't even rank. And Clark had to think that, too, because although he'd suggested that he might ask her out on a second date, he hadn't exactly been tripping over himself to show up the last time. Or the last two times, actually.
Staring sadly at the ad in her hand, Lois sighed again. When Clark did seriously start looking around for someone to love, she probably wouldn't even make the list of possible candidates. Cat probably would be in the number one slot. She wondered if Clark thought the same.
She didn't notice him walk into the bullpen, but she heard him say her name in a husky undertone as he walked up to her. Without even looking up, she started to rant. "Did you hear? The brilliant brass over at KZXP have decided to go with someone else for their morning show."
"Lois," she heard him say, but she was on a roll. And venting about the way Cat had scooped the job from underneath Lois's nose distracted her from thinking about how the Blonde Paragon might have scooped Clark out from under her nose, as well.
Ignoring his interruption, she continued, "After everything that happened! After Ollie and I almost got killed! Guess who they've decided to go with!" Her voice trembled a little on the last part as she held up the advertisement for him to see. His eyes dropped to the poster in her hand, and so she continued, "Apparently blondes test better with morning viewers!"
"Lois," he tried again, but she was getting too worked up in her mini-tirade to stop now.
"I'm sorry," she said. "I never should have tried out in the first place. Or dragged you there with me, and I just –" But her rambling was interrupted as Clark grabbed her by the arms and pulled her in, pressing his lips against hers.
For a moment, she froze, her eyes wide with shock as her mind tried to process this sudden development. Her hands hovered above his shoulders, her fingers trembling in indecision, before she closed her eyes and pressed her hands against his chest.
Was this really happening? She'd thought about this so many times. Dreamt of this moment. Wondered what it would be like to kiss him like this. What it would be like to be kissed by him like this.
His hands tightened on her arms squeezing her gently as she swayed towards him, Their lips parted briefly. Then he kissed her again, and Lois couldn't take it anymore. She opened her eyes and looked at him as he pressed his lips against hers once more. She just couldn't believe that it was really happening, that this wasn't yet another dream that her mind concocted to torture herself with everything she couldn't have.
His eyes were closed, his head tilted to the side as he released her arms and pressed his palms against her lower back, pulling her against him.
It was really him. It was really happening. Clark had really grabbed a hold of her and kissed her, and it was more – it was better – than anything she'd ever dreamed. Because it was real. It was their first kiss, the last first kiss she ever wanted to have.
And it was absolutely terrifying. It was the most terrifying thing she'd ever done, but she didn't want to let the moment go. She didn't want to face what would happen next, the moment after the kiss, and so she lifted her hand to the side of his face and sank her fingers into his hair. Her touch was tender; she was caressing him with all the longing she'd felt for him, everything she'd pent up inside of herself for over a year but had not been able to express.
A second lasted an eternity as she closed her eyes and gave herself over to the kiss. A moment from now, it would end and she might lose everything. But for right now, he was there and he was hers and she could almost believe that it could be something more.
Closing her eyes, she tilted her head and kissed him again and again. Her fingers curled around his neck, his hands tightened against her back. His hair was soft against her fingertips, his mouth open against hers.
She knew she should break off the embrace, pull away. Put the wall up between them once again. But instead, she put everything she had into that kiss. Every ounce of longing she'd felt for him, everything she'd ever thought or dreamed or felt.
In a moment, it would end and her heart would break. Because whatever this was for him, whatever reason he had for having kissed her like this just now, it couldn't be what she wanted it to be. What she needed it to be.
Everything inside her told her to stop kissing him. Pull back. Pull away. Salvage what dignity she could, preserve whatever shred of her heart that she could manage, and do her best to pretend like the aching in her chest wasn't taking her breath away. She reminded herself that he had bruised her heart before. If he walked away from her now, after holding her like this, it wouldn't just break her heart. It would shatter it. She should let him go.
But she couldn't. This might be her one moment to know what it felt like to be held like this, in the arms of the man she loved. She might hate herself later for her moment of weakness now, but she never wanted this moment to end. She wanted to memorize every second of it, engrave the feel of his lips, the taste of his kiss, against her memory. She wanted to remember every second, to pull it out and savor the memory during the long nights ahead, when there was nothing but her thoughts, her broken heart, and a pint of rocky road ice cream to look forward to.
Because she just couldn't risk letting herself believe that Clark loved her. Not the way she loved him, certainly. Maybe not at all.
He didn't love her. And that knowledge hurt more than words could say.
Clark paused, his mouth against hers, as if he was simply savoring the moment. And then, pressing one more kiss against her lower lip, he lifted his head.
Lois's throat was tight and she could barely breathe around the pain in her chest as Clark looked down at her, an enigmatic expression on his face. Silence stretched between them, and though she opened her mouth to say something, she didn't know what to say. Then his lips quirked up into a slight smile, and she found herself unconsciously mirroring him. But she still couldn't speak. She didn't know what to say. And she couldn't bear this silence.
Clark may have felt her uncertainty because he bowed his head again, as if he intended to kiss her once more. But then a nearby phone rang, shattering the silence.
Lois jumped, and Clark's hands fell from her back. She opened her mouth again. It had never been more important for her to find the right words to say, the perfect way to express what she was thinking. Or perhaps to hide what she was feeling. But nothing came to mind, perhaps because she didn't know whether she wanted to confess or to hide.
Sucking in a shaky breath, she stared up at him with imploring eyes, silently begging him to take this burden from her. Willing him to break the silence between them, to find the words she couldn't even begin to say.
Someone coughed behind her, and Lois remembered that they weren't alone in the newsroom. There were witnesses to the kiss, and though she didn't look around, she was certain that the spectators were curious to know what would happen next. And they certainly weren't alone.
"I'm sorry," Clark said finally. "I-I didn't mean to just grab you like that." He stammered the words. "I didn't hurt you, did I?"
"No, you didn't," she murmured. But I'm afraid that you're about to. Those words remained unsaid.
She took a step back, but Clark's gaze didn't waver from her face. "We should talk about what just happened," he said softly, trying to keep from being overheard by the spectators who were leaning forward at their desks, trying to catch every word.
Clearing her throat, she said a little too loudly, "Oh, yeah! Of course! I mean, naturally." Tearing her eyes away from his, she glanced at her computer screen. She had to get out of here, away from Clark. She had to put some distance between them until she'd gotten a hold of herself. Right now, she knew that she was probably wearing her heart on her sleeve. If Clark looked deep enough, she was sure he would recognize the love in her eyes for what it was. And she just couldn't bear the thought of it.
"Is everything okay?" he murmured softly.
She choked back a hysterical laugh, the sound coming out as a cough. Was he insane? Pressing her hand against her chest, she willed her heart to stop racing.
Bowing her head, Lois looked up at Clark through her lashes and hoped her expression didn't betray her. Oh, god, this was even worse than she'd feared. It hurt to look at him. It hurt to be so close to him and not know what to say or what to do. It hurt to love him and not know if he loved her back.
In her life, Lois had heard endless stories about the beauty and power of love. It was supposed to be the most wonderful thing in the world. But as she stood and stared up at Clark with her hand pressed against her chest and her breath caught in her throat, she realized that love wasn't like that at all. It was horrible. It was perhaps the most terrible feeling in the world, this pain in her chest that came from loving him, from wanting him so much. Standing her like this, so unsure of herself. Unsure of what Clark felt for her. A thousand questions racing through her mind. Her heart tearing in two with every moment she spent in his company.
"Um…rain check on the talk, though," she blurted, grabbing her purse off her desk with trembling fingers. "I just got a flash that the, uh, the Blur has just…uh…made another one of his rescues! I should get the story before we get scooped, right?"
"Lois!" Clark cried in protest, following after her as she darted for the door.
Spinning around, she raised her hand in a halting gesture. "No, Clark. Not – not right now. Okay? Just…give me time." He paused, a crease forming between his brows, and she took advantage of his uncertainty as she bolted for the elevator. Clark didn't follow.
She darted onto the elevator as soon as the doors slid open and turned. As she hit the button for the ground floor, she stared across the distance separating herself and Clark and sighed. She loved him, so much that it almost hurt to look at him. So what was she going to do now?