Disclaimer: All recognisable characters, story lines etc. are property of DC Comics, Warner Bros and December 3rd Productions. I’m not making any money off this, and so on and so forth.

Author’s note: This is the third in the loose series started with Muddying the Waters, set during Wall of Sound between Lenny Stoke’s capture and the little bit we got to see of the Kerth Awards. It hasn’t been beta-read, so any mistakes are my own.

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Lois stifled a yawn as she searched through her bag for her keys. “I’m beat. I think I’m going to try and get some sleep before the dinner. What about you, Clark?”
When he didn’t respond, she turned her head towards him, momentarily distracted from her search for keys. He was staring into the distance with an abstracted look on his face. With Clark, it was sometimes hard to tell if he was hearing something inaudible to the human ear, or if he’d merely become lost in thought.
“Clark?” Still no reply.
“Earth to Clark.” Mildly amused, Lois waved a hand in front of her partner’s face.
“Huh?”
“Do you need to go?” She made the swooping gesture that they’d started using to signal his need to attend to Superman duties.

Lois had been extremely confused the first time Clark had used it. She’d been in the middle of talking to a source at her desk when she’d caught the small movement from the desk opposite hers. Clark had to repeat the gesture a couple of times, and in the end, it had been the look of near-panic on his face that had made her realise what he was trying to tell her. They’d laughed about it later, but Clark’s hand signal had stuck.

Now, Clark shook his head slightly. “No, I was just... a million miles away.”

She raised an eyebrow. He’d been stewing on something ever since they’d captured Lenny Stoke. She’d known for a long time that Clark had a tendency to brood. Most of the time, he would eventually tell her what was bothering him, but not always. As close as they’d become, there were still some things that were too private for him to want to share.

“Something wrong?”
“I was wondering... what if the Kerth awards dinner was a real date?”
She stared at him, stunned. Her first joyous thought- that he was finally asking her out- was quickly replaced by another. Stoke’s comment, asking if she was Superman’s girl. Was that what had been bothering him?
Their relationship had changed a lot since the night she’d told him that she knew about his secret. While her friendship with Clark had become warmer and closer, her public relationship with Superman had become a lot more formal; to the point where she was no longer sure whether he wanted anything more from her than friendship. It would be just her luck- now that she’d finally admitted to herself that she was in love with Clark Kent- if he’d ceased to see her as anything other than his best friend.

Was it possible that this was some sort of test?

“Is this because of Stoke?”
“Partly,” he admitted. “Look, Lois. I- care- about you; I'm not good at hiding it, especially when you're in danger. And I know you know that. It's been the elephant in the room, ever since you found out about me.”
Exultation shot through her. He did care!
“You’re asking me out.” She couldn’t wipe the smile off her face.
“Yeah.” He paused, ducking his head shyly. “Lois, you're the first true friend I've ever had. And I love that. But I think we could be more.”
“Okay.”
“Okay?”
He was smiling at her now, that dazzling megawatt grin that never failed to set off butterflies in her stomach, and there was only one thing wrong with this picture.
“But- not the awards dinner.”
He tilted his head in a silent question.
“Do you really want Perry there on our first date?”
His grin vanished, replaced an expression of dismay so ludicrous that it was all she could do not to laugh at him, and she knew that he’d been assailed by the same mental picture she had; Perry with his eagle eye on them, making comparisons to some obscure piece of Elvis trivia.
“You’re right,” Clark sighed. “Well… how about tomorrow night?”
Lois did a quick mental check of her calendar. She was supposed to have training for taekwondo, but it wouldn’t hurt to miss one week.
“Sure.”
“Good.” He grinned at her again before taking a step back, breaking the spell. “I’d better go pick up my tux. I’ll see you tonight.”
Lois watched as he turned and walked away. Then, almost in a daze, she found the keys she’d been looking for and unlocked her front door.

A date. With Clark.

***
Clark turned nonchalantly into the alleyway that ran conveniently close to Lois’s apartment building and spun into the Suit. He was too keyed up to go home and rest like he’d intended; besides, with them pulling an all-nighter on the Stoke story, he hadn’t had a chance to fly patrols last night. Reaching a safe altitude, he couldn’t resist expressing his jubilation with a few barrel rolls.
He’d finally done it! He’d asked Lois out, and she’d said yes. Without hesitation too; the memory of the shy little smile on her face when she’d accepted made his heart soar, and he indulged in a few more aerobatics before forcing himself to settle down and drop to a proper patrol altitude.

He had a date. With Lois.

***
Lois dressed with more than her usual care, taking the extra time to make sure her hair, in its sleek French twist, and her makeup was perfect.
She was nervous.
She’d always been nervous for the Kerth Awards dinner in the past, although she did her best to hide it. But tonight she was nervous for a very different reason.

It had taken her months to finally sort through her feelings for Clark. Months of discovering the real man under the twin disguises of Spandex and business suits- because the real Clark fell somewhere in between the personas of Superman, Kryptonian superhero, and Clark Kent, investigative reporter. Months of settling into their new dynamic, of figuring out how her knowing the truth could be an asset to him and not a liability.
Months that had also involved their biggest and most convoluted investigation yet- into the murky underworld dealings of Lex Luthor.

It had been that investigation that finally made her face up to the truth about her feelings for Clark. Luthor had used his considerable influence to acquire the missing piece of Kryptonite from the chunk Wayne Irig had found. Using the Kryptonite as a power source, he’d made a cage capable of imprisoning Superman- and he’d trapped Clark in it.
Lois had been frantic for the two days that Clark was missing. She knew about Kryptonite; knew what it could do to him. And if they hadn’t been so close to exposing Luthor for the criminal scum that he was, she was still convinced Clark would have died in that cage.
She’d been hiding her feelings for her partner ever since. Maybe, after tomorrow, she wouldn’t have to hide them any longer.
But, she reminded herself, that was tomorrow. She had to get through tonight first, and tonight was not a date. Tonight was two friends going to an event together like they had multiple times before. She had to try and put any thoughts of tomorrow night- any reaction to the changed relationship between them- aside.

Somehow she didn’t think she’d succeed.

***
Under the guise of applauding the winner of the Kerth Award for Photojournalism, Perry White covertly observed his star reporters.
Something had changed between them- again. He hadn’t missed the look of stunned appreciation on Clark’s face when Lois had arrived, or the almost bashful way in which she’d greeted him. He’d noticed the little glances they kept throwing at each other, and the glowing look Lois had worn when Clark had won the award for investigative journalism.

If they thought they were fooling him, they were dead wrong.

Very little that occurred in his newsroom escaped his notice- and that included a lot of things that weren’t strictly professional. As long as it didn’t affect the work of his reporters, he turned a blind eye.
It did, however, mean that he was privy to a lot of secrets that he was sure his staff wouldn’t want to be made public- including the fact that Clark Kent was Superman.
He’d watched the evolution of Lois and Clark’s relationship with interest over the past year, wondering when- if ever- Clark was going to do something about his obvious love for his partner. And from their demeanour tonight, Perry was certain that Clark had done it. He’d finally asked Lois out.

The young man had come a long way in his bare year in Metropolis. From an unknown, relative greenhorn to an award-winning investigative journalist. From a restless traveller seeking his place in the world to a positive force for good. The only thing he hadn’t gotten in hand was his personal life- up until now.

The ceremony over, Perry rose from the Planet’s table and followed his award-winning reporting team to the exit. He’d congratulate Clark again on his award and then head home. Alice never could resist the sight of him in a tux.
Next year, Lois and Clark’s Luthor series would be eligible- and the Kerth for investigative journalism would have both their names on it, of this Perry was sure.
In the meantime, life in the Planet offices was about to become very interesting.


Edited by NostalgiaKick (10/29/16 07:42 AM)
Edit Reason: Added note