Wanting to be polite, and also wanting to gain some time to think, Clark retrieved Lana’s sweater and handed it to her. While she was pulling it back on, Clark found his t-shirt and did likewise, which elicited a sigh from Lana as his magnificent chest disappeared from view.
How to tell her in such a way as to make her believe me? Clark wondered. He quickly came to realize the only way she’d end up believing him about being an alien was if he also told her about being Superman. In fact, things would likely go better if he explained Superman first since he could prove that, and then let her in on the whole alien bit. Once he had decided, Clark opened his mouth to speak…
Lana had been waiting with strained patience for Clark to tell her about his ‘big secret.’ She hoped he really had a big secret and wasn’t just scared of being with her or something, but if so, she was worried about what his secret could be.
Clark had looked away from Lana when he began to think, and the look of intense concentration on his face was her first solid clue that he was really serious about having a secret. Then, his eyes returned to hers and his mouth opened…
…and nothing came out.
The longer Clark stood there with his mouth hanging open and nothing coming out, the wider his eyes grew and the faster his heart beat. He was beginning to panic as he could not make the words come out. He figured Lana would have no trouble accepting him being Superman; it was the E.T. part of the conversation that had him worried.
Clark didn’t know if it was fear of losing Lana once she knew that stilled his tongue, or what. All he knew for sure is, he was afraid, and the words…would…not…come…out.
By now Clark’s open mouth was flapping helplessly, his heart was racing in his chest, and his forehead broke out in a light sweat. He didn’t know what he looked like, but Lana could see the panic in his face. She stepped in close to him once again and placed the palm of a hand flat on his chest. It felt to her like his heart was trying to jackhammer its way out.
“My God, Clark, your heart is racing.”
“That’s because I’m scared out of my mind right now,” he admitted. “I can’t…can’t remember the last time I was afraid like this. It’s just not n…natural for me.”
Without taking time to think, Lana slid that hand around to Clark’s back where it was joined by her other hand as she pulled him in close for a hug. Her face was turned to one side and buried in his chest and her hands were rubbing his back, while his chin rested lightly on top of her head and his hands were resting on her shoulders. They looked to be a somewhat incongruous pair, as tiny Lana lightly rocked massive Clark back and forth.
“I can see there is a secret, Clark, and it’s bigger than I would’ve believed just five minutes ago. Trust of that kind has to be earned, so tell me when you’re ready. I can wait to know, just as I can wait to make love with you.”
Clark was humiliated once again in Lana’s presence. This time, however, she was the only witness and the humiliation was entirely his fault. He’d thought about just whipping out the Superman suit, figuring that once Lana saw that, questions would follow and he’d be able to talk, but he wasn’t sure that in his present condition, his hands could even manage to open his storage box.
His ears were still working just fine since they were nothing but passive participants, and so Clark had listened carefully to Lana, but he thought he was hearing things when he heard her place a slight emphasis on the words ‘make love.’
I as good as admitted I’m in love with her already with that rambling speech about the things about her I like; I wonder if her feelings for me have advanced as quickly as my feelings for her have.
That made Clark think about what he’d said minutes ago. He realized he hadn’t been thinking then, he had just told her the truth of his attraction to her. The more he thought now, the more he realized he had, just for a moment, opened himself to her completely and allowed his feelings to come gushing out.
Clark wanted to tell her that he was in love with her, but he didn’t dare tell her at this moment. He was afraid that if he said ‘I love you’ at this moment, she might think he was just trying to ease her disappointment. Some guys use the words ‘I love you’ to get something from a girl, while others use them as a get out of jail free card. Clark, on the other hand, has never used them. He’d not even said them very often, and when he had, they’d always been said for the pleasure of the person he was talking to, as an honest expression of emotion. He wasn’t about to change that now.
The duo of Lana’s soothing actions and Clark thinking about something other than his secrets combined to help him relax. Lana could feel him melt in her arms as the tension bled out of his body.
Wanting to distract Clark while getting things moving again, Lana asked Clark for, and received, the Thermos he had said was in the big bag so she could fill it with the mulled wine before it lost its heat. She knew he had something planned for outside, and wanted to see what it was.
“What else is in that bag?” Lana asked.
“Oh…nothing much,” Clark replied, as he reached into the bag. Lana snickered when she saw what appeared to be a travel-sized magnetic checkerboard. She remembered what he had joked about when discussing potential after dinner activities and suddenly wondered if the rest of the bag contained quilting supplies. Close, but not quite. What Clark did have in the bag was a beautiful, oversized, handmade quilt that was already completed.
Sure she knew the answer already, Lana asked dubiously, “So, you want to play checkers on the balcony?”
Regaining his ease, Clark said, “Nah. The checkerboard was just a joke, but I do plan on us using that quilt.”
“This.” Clark reached inside the bag and pulled out a long, padded container that had been standing upright in the bag, apparently surrounded by the quilt. He set the container down on the couch, quickly and efficiently removing what was locked inside.
The back of Lana’s couch blocked whatever it was from Lana’s sight, and the longer Clark waited to show it to her, the more her curiosity grew.
“What is it?”
Clark straightened up and lifted into Lana’s view a long cylinder. It wasn’t until he attached the cylinder to its supporting tripod, however, that she realized what it was.
“It’s a telescope,” Clark said. “It’s nothing fancy, but it belonged to my dad. He gave it to me when I was little.” He threw the quilt over one shoulder and picked up the telescope with his other arm as he headed for the balcony.
Lana sensed that the telescope meant more to Clark than he was letting on. Intrigued, she grabbed the Thermos and a couple of mugs from her cupboard and followed Clark outside into the cold.
By the time Lana closed the door behind her, Clark had the telescope set up, had her white-painted wicker love seat in position next to the telescope, and had the quilt arranged for them. Lana moved to Clark’s side and he wrapped the quilt around the both of them, taking care to be sure that Lana had plenty of extra quilt so she could cocoon herself whenever she felt the need.
Lana noticed how much quilt she had available and checked to make sure that Clark would have enough since he was so much larger than her and was only wearing a t-shirt on his chest. Only when she threatened to make him go inside and put on his overcoat did Clark relent and take a little more of the quilt for himself. After that, Lana poured them each a mug of the mulled wine, they huddled close under the quilt, and settled in for some stargazing.
While Lana’s knowledge of astronomy was limited to the names of the planets and being able to identify a few constellations like Ursa Major (the Big Dipper), Ursa Minor (the Little Dipper), and Orion, she quickly found that Clark’s knowledge was nearly encyclopedic. Not only did he know the names of the constellations visible in the light-occluded Metropolis night sky, but he knew the names of the major stars in each constellation.
The thing was, Clark presented his knowledge in a way that didn’t make Lana feel stupid, or in any way less than him. Just the opposite in fact. She felt like he was sharing something very personal with her, a side of him that very few people got to see, and it made her feel extremely special.
Near the end of their night, they were studying the surface of the moon, with Clark showing her some of the more famous lunar landmarks like the Sea of Tranquility, when Lana took in the moon as a whole and thought about the ‘man in the moon.’
She looked up at Clark and asked, “Do you believe in life on other planets, Clark?”
Clark had just swallowed a sip of wine, and was thus saved from spraying Lana with a red mist, but it didn’t stop him from gagging for air.
Amused with Clark’s bug-eyed facial expression, Lana listened intently as Clark regained his composure and said, “Actually, I do.” Boy do I ever!
“What do you think they’re like?”
“Oh, I don’t know…I don’t think too much about what they look like, Lana,” I already know that, “but I do spend a lot of time wondering how they think and feel.”
“And I think they want the same things we do: safety, comfort, love…”
“I think so, too,” Lana replied simply. “How could they not?”
Clark decided it was time to take the risk and tell her he loved her. He’d already told her the way he felt, but he hadn’t said the words. He hadn’t even quite realized he was in love until his feelings had poured out.
“I think love is a universal constant, Lana. Wherever you find intelligence, you’ll also find love. Love for friends, love for family…” Clark hesitated on the edge of the precipice and then leapt off, “...and the kind of love I have for you. I love you, Lana.”
Lana’s eyes began to shine as their lower lids filled with tears. He’d said it, and she knew he meant it. She didn’t know how she knew, she just did. They’d only known each other for nine days (Clark had said eight but had miscounted and she wasn't about to correct him, not now) and yet they were in love.
She knew it was irrational to have known someone for only nine days, to have dated him for roughly half that, and yet know she loved him. But since she knew, and since he’d admitted his love for her, there was only one thing left to do.
“I love you, too, Clark.”
The kiss that followed, under the silvery light of the December moon, was pure, more a formal seal placed on the new state of their relationship than an expression of sexual desire. But the desire was still there, waiting just under the surface, simmering, only needing Clark to speak the words that would allow it to come out to play once more.
Both recognized that if they stayed cuddled together under the quilt for much longer, then those impulses were going to surface once more, whether they wanted them to or not, so they regretfully broke up their heavenly viewing party and went inside.
Once Clark was packed, he was ready to go. Lana wrung out his shirt while assuring him that a good washing should have it good as new. The damp shirt was stuffed into a plastic bag and placed into the big bag with everything else. His blue blazer was then rolled up and set on top.
Just when Clark decided to use two arms to make the bag look somewhat heavy and awkward, Lana stole one last kiss from her defenseless boyfriend. The look of bliss on Clark’s face after that kiss mirrored what Lana felt in her soul at that moment.
Maybe I haven’t been an ice princess all these years, Lana thought happily. Maybe I’ve just been waiting for the right guy.
As Clark swept out of the building’s lobby, he passed right by Bill the Doorman who took one look at the stupid grin on Clark’s face and suddenly had to hide a grin of his own. Looks to me like Miss Lang up there in 1523 has a serious suitor on her hands already. That guy’s got it bad.