Start the Party
The next morning, Lana woke to find Clark in the midst of unpacking his N-space box and making room for her clothes and other belongings. She walked around and saw that he’d given her most of the space in his under-the-sink bathroom cabinet, along with half of the space in his dresser and chest-of-drawers, and roughly half of the space in his closet.
She was sure she’d have to rearrange her things to suit her tastes and organizational style, but the fact that Clark was making room for her things paralleled the way he was making room for her in his life. She smiled uncontrollably as it hit home that this
was her home now. She began to hope she’d never have to leave.
Following their established routine, Clark flew Lana to work with Kara right behind. Kara took over once they reached the rooftop and escorted Lana to work, but not before Clark and Lana exchanged heated kisses and meaningful ‘I love yous.’
The morning flew by peacefully and both were pleased to get some work done without any of the drama that had accompanied them recently. When Marie showed Lana a color Daily Planet photograph of her and Clark waiting outside his building the night before, all Lana did was smile. But from Marie’s perspective, it appeared that Lana glowed with pleasure. That was all Marie needed to see.
Lowering her voice so that only Lana and Supergirl could hear it, Marie asked, “So, is Clark Kent the one?”
Almost afraid that speaking her desire to someone else would jinx it, Lana whispered nervously, “Just between you and me? Yes, he is.”
Concerned for her very likable new boss, Marie leaned in close. “Are you sure?
You’ve only known Clark for three weeks.”
Lana nodded her head slowly. “Yes, Marie. I’m sure.”
Clark took a good-natured ribbing from his colleagues for making the news for once instead of reporting it. He didn’t mind making the news, as long as it involved him and Lana being in love.
Even Perry made a short comment about it, tossing Clark an 8x10 glossy that hadn’t been in the paper, and saying, “You two make a nice looking couple, Kent.”
“Now, are you done with that article yet?”
“No sir, I’ll need the whole morning to finish it. Lana had some friends come in from out of town yesterday to support her after the explosion the night before. They took us out and we stayed out late.”
Growling at what love had done to his star reporter, while secretly being delighted with the way Clark had retuned to his old self since meeting Miss Lang, Perry said, “No harm done, as long as you turn in the finished product before you leave today.”
“No problem, Perry. I won’t let you down.”
Perry waited until Clark was back at his nearby desk before saying, “I know you won’t, Kid. I know you won’t.”
Clark was running a few minutes late as he checked a few last facts for his article, so he called Lana to let her and Kara know what was going on. Lana appreciated the thoughtfulness of the call, and finished her own work before chatting with Kara as they waited for Clark. In the end, he was only fifteen minutes late.
Today, since they were leaving for Gotham City after lunch, Clark brought them something light to eat: Chinese noodles along with some stir-fried vegetables. Lunch was over quickly, as both of them were anxious to get going. Kara took off, pleased to have the weekend to herself, as Clark flew Lana home to pack for their trip. Her luggage had been lost in the explosion and fire, so Clark gave her a couple of pieces of his luggage to use.
Clark carefully placed his rarely-used ultra-formal tuxedo in his garment bag, along with his white tie and white vest. He tucked his freshly shined black shoes in the shoes compartment at the bottom. He then packed enough comfortable clothes for two days, since they weren’t planning on coming back until Sunday. The last thing he did was to make sure Lana was engrossed by her own packing before he reached onto the top shelf of his closet, way in the back, and snagged a small white box which he carefully placed inside his N-space box.
Because Lana was being outfitted onsite by Rachel’s dress designer, she didn’t have to pack a fancy party dress. Being a woman, she still managed to pack twice as much for the two days of their trip as Clark did, even though he was twice her size. Once packed, they headed downstairs with Clark carrying the suitcases, while Lana insisted on carrying Clark’s garment bag.
Bruce and Rachel were waiting at the door, and within one hour, the four of them were airborne on Bruce’s personal Gulfstream G550 business jet. As they sank into the luxurious cream-colored leather furniture, Clark said, “I thought you had a G-V.”
“I did,” Bruce replied. “I traded it in for the 550 six months ago. It turns out the longer range is useful for some of those trips to Asia.”
Knowing Bruce didn’t have much to do with his company’s day-to-day business, Clark chuckled. “What? For those days when you get a craving for some authentic Chinese food?”
“Well, you’re the one that got me hooked on real Peking Duck. Can I help it if you’re not around to get me some when I want it?” Both guys started laughing at the very idea of Bruce flying off to China for nothing more than a good meal.
For most of the two hour flight, the four passengers split into same-sex pairs for some private talks. Lana and Rachel used their time alone, after admonishing Clark to keep his ears to himself, to sip white wine and discuss the kinds of things they hadn’t wanted to mention in front of the guys the night before. The guys, on the other hand, were talking shop over snifters of armagnac.
Bruce kept his personal plane in a hangar at a small private airport which was closer and more convenient to his home than the massive Wayne International Airport, so that’s where they landed. As soon as their luggage had been unloaded and stored in the capacious trunk of the stretch Bentley limo that Alfred was driving, they were off.
“I can’t believe how quick that was,” Lana said. “I may never fly commercial again.”
“Yeah, it’s nice,” Rachel said, “No waiting to check in and then no waiting to board. Not to mention all the waiting around you get to avoid when you land.”
“Then there’s the unlimited leg room and the super comfy seating to consider,” Clark added.
“Leave it to a tall guy to get excited about leg room,” Bruce said, “though I grant you, the seats are
Wayne Manor was only a twenty minute drive away from the airport, and Alfred had them there by 4:30 p.m. Rachel hurried Lana inside, because the dress designer was going to be there with his assistants and his newest creation by 5 p.m. for the fitting.
Lana only stopped long enough to plant a quick kiss on one of Alfred’s leathery cheeks and said, “It’s good to be back, Alfred,” as he held the open car door.
Startled, the always correct butler blushed a furious shade of red, while the two younger men pretended not to notice his discomfiture. Once Alfred assigned a couple of young assistants to the job of carrying in all of the luggage, he drove the car around back to the garage, and Clark and Bruce finally busted out laughing.
“Alfred’s always in control,” Bruce said, between wheezing laughs.
“But one innocent kiss from Lana,” Clark said, “and he looked like a twelve-year-old kid getting his first one.”
“I know. I’m dying over here.” Another wheezing laugh. “I need to tell Rachel about that. She might want to try it sometime.”
The guys went in and shot some pool while they waited for Lana and Rachel to finish with the fitting. After they finished the first rack and were setting up another, Bruce said, “I saw a replay of your threat on last night’s news cast. Very intimidating. It might even work.”
“I hope so. Lana means everything to me.”
“Nice touch threatening their cash reserves like that.”
“Thanks,” Clark replied as Bruce broke the next rack and pocketed a ball on the break.
“Just one thing,” Bruce said, as he lined up his next shot.
“If you do
have to break the rules and go after Intergang,” Bruce sank his first shot and watched as the cue ball drew back down the table, “make damn sure you limit yourself to Intergang. Anything beyond that, and you’re getting dangerously close to what I warned you about. I’d hate to have to come after you.”
“Yeah. I’d hate it too.”
Meanwhile, Lana was standing on a box with the mostly finished dress draped on her body. The designer would give a couple of terse orders to his assistants, who would then make minute adjustments to the dress and hold them in place while the designer stood back and judged the effectiveness of his changes. Once he was pleased, the final changes were marked, and the designer sent the dress off with his assistants.
“They’ll be back with the finished dress in and hour and a half, Dear,” the designer said to Rachel, while Lana put her own clothes back on. The designer turned to Lana. “And as for you,
my lovely, dressing you was simply a pleasure. It’s so much easier to make a beautiful dress when I start with a beautiful woman. Such
Lana thanked the man and then, after some three-way girl talk, which Lana found to be extremely disconcerting since one of the women was a man, the designer took his leave and Lana poured the thanks onto Rachel.
“I had a dress or two which would have worked, but after the explosion…”
“I know. Good thing I already had this arranged.” Rachel looked down the hall at the departing designer. “Maurice is impossible to book on short notice.”
“Where’s your dress?”
“In the closet. I had my final fitting a week ago.”
“What color is it?”
“Cornflower, something that should help me stand out.”
Lana rolled her eyes. “Like you need the help.”
“You’re a dear friend, Lana, but I’m almost forty now. With younger women like you all over the place, I need all the help I can get.” Rachel eyed Lana from head to toe. “You, on the other hand, are going to be the belle of the ball. The pale golden silk of that dress just loved
you. I can’t wait ‘til you get it back and Clark sees you in it.”
Lana checked the time on her watch and saw that it was just after six in the evening. “What time is the dinner planned for?”
“Mmm…roughly 9 p.m. Cocktail hour starts at eight in the foyer, followed by dinner in the grand dining room, and ending with dancing and copious amounts of champagne and chocolate in the ballroom. The dancing should start around ten-thirty and last until everyone goes home. From past experience, that’ll be sometime after three in the morning.”
“I only had a light lunch, and another of Clark’s pastry breakfasts, so I was wondering if I could sneak down for a light snack to tide me over ‘til dinner. I’d hate to have a rumbling stomach right in the middle of cocktails.”
Rachel walked to one wall of the room and pulled on a thick cord that hung from the ceiling. Less than a minute later, a servant came to the door and knocked. The ladies called out their permission to enter, and when the man did, Rachel pointed to Lana, who apologetically asked for a small tray of veggies along with some low-cal dip.
Rachel wasn’t surprised, but was very pleased, when her most excellent kitchen staff complied with Lana’s request in short order. The vegetables had been easy, since they were just baby carrots, slices of celery, and cauliflower heads, but the dressing had been made from scratch by the head chef. It was a rich-tasting onion dip, and the man had scored extra points by discreetly including a small mound of mints to help conquer onion breath.
With there being less than two hours until the beginning of cocktail hour, Lana would have been frantic for time to prep, except for the fact that Rachel had hired top-of-the-line hair dressers and makeup artists to help her and Lana achieve the best look in the least amount of time.
While the women were being primped by the fashion pros, Bruce saw one of the servants for the party in a regular tux and remembered that he had one thing party-related to check on with Clark.
remember to bring the white tie and tails today, right?”
“Yeah, I remembered. It’ll be nice to get to use that
tux for a change.”
“When was the last time you wore it?” Bruce asked.
Clark stopped and stared blankly as he tried to remember. “I think it was at the Mayor’s Ball a couple of years ago. I took a girl from accounting at the Planet. Naturally, she had to drive, and I remember thinking that if she kept looking at me instead of the road, we’d have a wreck.”
Suddenly, Bruce recalled a few bits and pieces of this story. “Isn’t that the one you accused of trying to nail you in the back seat of her car on the way home?”
“Uh, yeah. She stopped in the middle of Metropolis Park and got out because she said the stars and the moon looked so romantic. I got out to give her her wrap.” Clark winced at that particular memory. “She pushed me into her backseat and virtually attacked me. By the time I got it through to her that I wasn’t going to give her what she wanted…”
Bruce interrupted, and said, “Namely the high, hard one.”
“Jeez, Bruce, for a high society rich guy, you can be unbelievably crass sometimes.”
Bruce shrugged unapologetically. “Sorry. It’s just a cost of working with the scum of the city like I do.”
“Anyway, by the time she knew that no meant no, her dress was bunched around her waist and my pants were around my knees.”
“I bet Lana won’t have to fight you like that tonight. She’ll just smile, beckon you with one crooked finger, and your pants will fall off like…magic.”
Clark smiled helplessly, as he said, “I don’t doubt it one bit.” His expression turned serious. “But talking about tonight reminds me, is the, uh, surprise
“It should be, but let me check with Alfred.”
The two men went out in search of Alfred, and found him in the grand dining room where he was supervising the layout of the silverware and china for the ninety-six place settings at the table. As always, he was an exacting taskmaster, making sure that everything was just so.
As soon as Alfred saw Master Bruce and young Clark, with the latter looking particularly anxious, he knew what they wanted. He stopped supervising just long enough to catch Clark’s eyes and formally nod his head. Clark wanted to ask anyway, just to be sure, but Bruce dragged him away.
“If Alfred says it’s ready, then it is. Don’t insult the man by asking after he’s already told you.”
“By the way, Clark. That full, formal nod of his head wasn’t just letting you know that everything is ready.”
“Yes.” Bruce lightly elbowed Clark in the ribs. “It’s nice to know you’re not as dumb as you look…sometimes anyway.”
“Shut your pie hole, Bruce.” Smirking at his host, Clark added, “At least one of us managed to graduate college.”
“Hey, I’ve got a college degree,” Bruce said, “and mine’s
“Only honorary, and you had to donate $40 million for a new law school library to get that.”
Bruce chuckled and cuffed Clark on the shoulder. “Come on. We’ve got enough time left to finish our game before we have to go up and dress.”
It was nearly seven-thirty before the guys went upstairs to dress. Bruce led Clark to the guest suite that had been assigned to him and Lana before retiring to the master suite.
Clark showered and was completely dry in a very short period of time. Only the slowness of the water coming out of the showerhead slowed him down at all. He took his time getting dressed though. Silk boxers and an a-shirt were followed by a white button-down shirt. Then came the pants followed by black socks and shoes. Suspenders were already attached to the pants, so he pulled them on over his shoulders next. These were followed by the white vest, or waistcoat as some call it, and last came the long black coat with tails that hung down to almost the back of his knees.
All he had left was the white tie.
He had never been able to tie one. Well, he could tie one, but the ends never came out evenly, so he guessed it was more accurate to say he had never tied one properly.
He went in search of Bruce, or someone else who could help him, but Bruce was still getting dressed himself and there didn’t seem to be any servants close-by either.
That was when the door opposite his opened and Rachel came out. She was wearing a strapless dress which was a deep blue tinged with purple. The bodice was form fitting, and the skirt flared somewhat and seemed to be made of a gauze-like fabric that extended to just below the knee. Her shoes matched her dress and had what seemed to be relatively sensible two-inch heels. When she stepped into the light, he could see that her hair was coiffed in an elegant updo of the kind that her rigorous office hours regularly denied her.
Clark thought that her look took ten years off her age, but he wasn’t about to risk her irritation by telling her that,
so he settled for kissing the back of her hand, and saying, “You look lovelier than ever, Rachel. Bruce is a lucky man.”
“Thank you, Clark, but don’t use up your newspaperman’s store of superlatives just yet. Wait’ll you lay your eyes on this.” Rachel turned back to the door she had just come out of, and said, “Come on out, Lana.”
When Lana made her way out into the hallway, Clark caught his breath. It was all he could do to whisper, “But he’s not as lucky as me.”
Lana’s silken hair was pulled back just far enough to be off of her neck and ears, and was then allowed to tumble down in an artful confection of loose curls. Clark couldn’t imagine how long it had taken to achieve that effect, but he didn’t begrudge her a single second. He didn’t have long to stare at her hair, however, as the rest of her was demanding equal time.
Clark could tell Lana was wearing cosmetics, but couldn’t tell how many or where. The overall effect was to make her eyes seem to leap right off of her face. They’d always seemed large to Clark, and they were the part of her face he always saw first, now only more so.
As for her lips, they were practically begging to be kissed on the spot, and only the fear of mussing her masterfully painted face kept him from doing just that.
Then, his eyes alighted on Lana’s body and her magnificent dress. It was a one-shoulder dress made of shimmering, pale golden silk. The dress clung closely to Lana’s torso down to her waist, where it was firmly cinched to help emphasize her narrow waist. From there, it fit snugly over the flare of her hips before dropping unimpeded to the tops of her strappy three-inch golden heels. Except for a small slit in front to facilitate walking, nothing of her legs showed, but when Lana turned to close the suite’s door, Clark could see her back was bare down past her shoulder blades. He’d never known a back could be sexy before, but now he knew differently. And as for the swell of her behind as it pushed against the silk? Clark couldn’t risk letting himself think about that.
Lana looked apprehensively at Clark, hoping he’d like what he saw. When she saw him desperately rubbing at his eyes, she knew he did. That allowed her to drink in the sight of him. She loved how this most formal of tuxes only managed to enhance his masculinity and clean-cut good looks. Even his normally unruly hair had cooperated today. He looked like he belonged on top of a wedding cake.
That’s when Lana saw the still untied tie hanging from the hand that wasn’t trying to keep his eyes from burning down Wayne Manor. She stepped up to Clark, took the tie from his hand, and said, “Here, let me do this for you.” She flipped up his shirt collar and it only took her two tries to get the tie tied perfectly. “There. You’re all squared away.”
In the time that it had taken Lana to tie Clark’s tie, Bruce had come out of the master suite and joined Rachel at the end of the hallway near the opulent double helix staircase. As they waited for their young friends, Bruce was approached by a servant who handed him a message. After reading it twice, he handed it over to Rachel, and said, “We won’t tell them now.”
“Why not? This should be great news for them.”
“Because, for them, this party is about other things. They have a lot to talk about tonight, so we’ll tell them later. Maybe tomorrow morning.”
Not being in on Clark’s request for a special surprise, Rachel guessed.
“You don’t mean…he’s not gonna…is he?”
Bruce held out his arm and Rachel looped hers inside his, as he said, “Yup. At least, I sure hope so.”
Clark and Lana were in their own little world at that moment and were thus oblivious to anything being said at the other end of the hall. They might have stayed there all night, had Bruce not finally called out loudly to get their attention.
“Yes, yes, we know. You’re both very pretty. Now let’s get going.”
Both Clark and Lana laughed at that, and Clark held out his arm for Lana. Like Rachel, Lana looped her arm around that of her man and the two of them headed for the stairs.
“And here I thought you had been as gorgeous as possible at your office Christmas party.” Clark leaned in just a tad, and whispered loudly, “I was wrong.”
“Thank you, Clark. You‘re looking pretty amazing yourself.”
“Just don’t get any more
beautiful tonight or else Bruce’s fire insurance premiums will double.”
“I’ll try not to, Clark,” Lana said laughingly. “Let’s get downstairs and get this party started.”