After Clark settled their bill, Lana stayed inside the diner while he went outside to flag down a taxi for them to share. Clark handed Lana into the cab and then followed her inside. They sat with their legs touching and, unlike the last time they shared a cab, there were no awkward glances or embarrassment. They had no trouble spending the entire ride staring into each other’s eyes and holding hands. By the time the cab reached Lana’s building, a light fingertip grip had become two palms pressed tightly together and their mouths had gone dry just from the wanting of each other.
This time, Clark wanted to escort Lana to her door, which was what she wanted, too. She led him past the doorman, across the lobby, and into the elevator. At this time of night, they were the only passengers in the elevator, so as soon as the doors closed, they began kissing.
Lana had pressed the button for the fifteenth floor, but when Clark saw how quickly the elevator was rising, he reached over and pressed the buttons for every floor from the fourth to the fourteenth to buy them some more time. Their questing lips and dancing tongues didn’t slow at all when the elevator doors opened on each floor, until they finally reached their destination.
Lana regretfully pulled back and said softly, “This is my floor.”
Clark led Lana out of her elevator and they walked side-by-side toward her apartment.
“Yeah. You need to be a few floors higher…like about fifty floors higher.”
I don’t know about that,” Lana replied laughingly. “I’d be nothing but a pile of mush if we kissed that long.”
“You say that like it’s a bad thing,” Clark teased.
“Oh, it wouldn’t be a bad thing. It’d just be too good for me to handle right now.” Lana looked for a way to explain what she meant. “It would be kind of like eating a super-rich dessert after not having had any sweets for a long time. When that happens to me, I like to eat the dessert bit by bit instead of all at once. See what I mean?”
“Yeah, I do,” Clark said. “You want to slow down a bit before making out becomes something more.”
“Mmm…maybe not slow down, but I’m not quite ready to go any farther. I want to make sure what we have is real first.”
“I can live with that, Lana. I’m not into casual sex either, but I want to reinforce what I said earlier. I feel something for you I haven’t felt in a long time.”
As they reached her door, Lana had her key out already and Clark leaned against the door frame as she unlocked the door. Lana opened the door and pushed it into her apartment and then turned back to Clark.
“Thanks for giving me a wonderful night, Clark. I met a lot of people that I need to know, and we…”
She didn’t know how to express the welter of emotions she had been feeling all night, but Clark pulled her in close for one last kiss that said everything, before he released her and said, “Yeah, and we…definitely, and we…”
Clark walked out of the building a few minutes later, and disappeared into a dark alley shortly thereafter. He was way too wound up to even attempt to sleep, so he put in several hours in the night skies of Metropolis to use up his excess energy.
Lana also had trouble sleeping, but she had no one she could call at that moment to spill out the events of the evening. She slept fitfully, until at 7:30 am, she decided she had waited long enough and called Rachel.
It was 8:30 am in Gotham City, and Rachel and Bruce were sharing some rare alone time in their massive mahogany-framed bed. Saturdays were always for personal time in their household, whether they were being intimate or just sharing a quiet meal together. Bruce had just climbed into bed after a long night as Batman and had snuggled in behind Rachel when he heard the distinctive tones of a cell phone.
That better not be mine, Bruce thought. Once he recognized the ring tone, he knew the call was for Rachel, but had no idea who it was. Rachel was still half asleep, so Bruce rolled out of bed and located her phone. A quick check of the caller ID let him know it was Lana.
It must be important for Lana to call us this early, Bruce thought. I guess it’s time to finish waking Rachel up.
Bruce shook Rachel awake and handed her the phone. She was bleary-eyed and confused until she read the caller ID. Seeing Lana’s name, Rachel sat up in bed and rubbed the sleep from her eyes before accepting the call.
“Hi, Lana! What’s up in Metropolis? How’d the first week on the job go?”
“Forget the job, Rachel,” Lana said excitedly. “I’m calling to talk about Clark Kent.”
That statement woke Rachel up completely. Realizing this was going to be girl talk instead of shop talk, Rachel shooed Bruce out of the room, telling him to go downstairs and have a decent breakfast or something.
Lana quickly detailed her relationship with Clark, starting off with seeing him on the subway Monday morning and barely stopping for breath until she finished her story at her front door last night.
Rachel was beside herself with glee. Lana Lang, the world-weary woman who could never find a man to suit her, was thoroughly besotted with Clark Kent. And from her conversation a few days ago with Clark, Rachel knew he had feelings for Lana, too. Rachel couldn’t imagine love happening to two more deserving people. If it happened, that is.
Clark was always afraid of letting anyone get close, and he had only recently told Rachel why. She knew Lana was in some danger at the present, which had to be driving Clark up the wall. Still, she liked the fact that Lana had already bulled her way past his stated intention to never fall for another woman. Now all he had to do is keep her from dying.
Bruce came back upstairs after a light breakfast and knocked on the heavy oak door to their bedroom to make sure he wasn’t interrupting something sensitive.
“Come in!” Rachel shouted. The door was so thick and so far away from the bed that anything less than a shout couldn’t be heard.
While Lana kept on chatting, Rachel put her hand over the mouthpiece and whispered that Clark and Lana were together. Bruce replied with a crude two-handed gesture to ask if they were intimate already. Rachel responded by trying to punch him on the shoulder, but he deftly rolled off of the bed and out of her reach, which caused her to throw a pillow at him.
Bruce grabbed his cell phone off the bedside table and went down the hall to his office, figuring he’d better call Clark and get his side of the story. He’d never been around Lana when she was infatuated with a guy, so he had no idea if she had a tendency to make things sound bigger and better than they really were or not. Clark was someone, on the other hand, that Bruce really knew how to read. He still remembered the way being with Lois had opened Clark up. It had been like he was a different man.
Bruce dialed, and after a long ring, he was about to be transferred to voice mail when a groggy Clark picked up the phone.
“Bruce?” Clark asked. He sounded somewhat confused. “Why are you calling me so early? In fact, what are you even doing up at this hour of the morning?”
“Hoping that your new girlfriend will shut up so I can get some sleep without resorting to using a guest room. Alfred hates it when he doesn’t know where I am.”
Bruce thought he could almost hear Clark’s smile when he referred to Lana as being Clark’s girlfriend, so they likely were an item. Good for them, Bruce thought. Here we’ve got ‘Emotionally Scarred’ dating ‘Never Been Kissed.’ I hope they each learn from the other. If so, this may just work out.
“Uhh…did I hear you say, girlfriend?”
“Yeah, you remember her. The petite brunette with adorable almond-shaped eyes and a killer smile? Apparently, she’s gotten over whatever interest she had had in ‘you know who.’”
“Really. Rachel says her talk is all about you.” The slight edge of excitement in Clark’s voice made Bruce smile, a smile that spilled over into his voice. “She’s been chewing Rachel’s ear off for quite some time, so it looks like you may have found a woman who wants the man and not…well, you know who I mean.”
Clark and Bruce both knew that mentioning the name Superman during an unsecured phone call was asking for trouble, but Clark knew exactly who Bruce was referring to. Knowing that not only was Lana interested in him, but that Superman didn’t appear to be in the picture was music to his ears. Even with Lois it had taken quite awhile for him to get her interest directed at him instead of Superman.
Bruce waited a few seconds and then pressed on.
“So, big guy, when’s the first date?”
Clark explained quickly that they’d already been out together twice, but that neither qualified as an official date. Bruce was enjoying Clark’s story until he was told about the bet with Lana. Bruce switched attitudes so fast that Clark wondered if he’d missed something.
“Let me explain something to you, Clark,” Bruce said. His tone of voice was that of a school teacher explaining a simple problem to a particularly dense student. It was a tone Clark wasn’t used to hearing directed at him. “Lana’s smart. Real smart. If you keep showing off for her, she’s gonna figure you out in no time.” Hearing no reply from Clark, Bruce went on. “The way I see it, you have two choices if you want to keep seeing her on a personal basis: either stop doing anything out of the ordinary, or go ahead and tell her the truth.”
Clark was unwilling to let her in all the way just yet, but he felt so comfortable with her that he sometimes couldn’t help making a slip.
“She’s got to win my absolute trust before I tell her that secret, Bruce.”
“Okay, but if you want to win her absolute trust, tell her before she figures it out.”
Once Bruce hung up the phone, he headed back to the bedroom, hoping that Lana had finished with his wife. Last night had been rough, and he needed some sleep. Thankfully, Rachel was out of bed and had an embroidered white silk robe on as she headed for the bathroom for her morning shower. When Bruce hopefully volunteered to join her in the shower, she just pointed at several of his more prominent bruises and directed him to bed.
“We’ve got plenty of time for that later. Right now, you need some sleep.”
Only slightly disappointed, Bruce changed the subject by asking about Lana.
“She’s giddy right now, Bruce. I just hope Clark doesn’t do something to bring her crashing back to Earth.”
Bruce quirked an eyebrow and asked, “What makes you think he might?”
“After you left the other night, Clark told me exactly what happened to Lois. He rather angrily announced he’d never fall for another woman, only to have that happen again.” Rachel stepped back over to Bruce. “I’m afraid that at the first manifestation of trouble, Clark will pull back from her like he’s been snake bitten.”
Bruce mulled that over a bit before reluctantly agreeing it could happen.
“Still, Rach, he has taken the first step forward. Give him a break.”
“Oh, all right.”
Rachel turned back to the bathroom, but Bruce asked her one more question. “She say anything else?”
“Yeah. For their first date, she has to cook a fancy meal for two at her place. Thing is, her belongings haven’t shown up yet, so she has to wait.”
“Still, waiting huh? What movers did she use?”
“United Van Lines.”
Bruce flipped open his phone and headed for the Metropolis phone book in his office. Let’s see if I can expedite the arrival of her stuff. Within thirty minutes, Bruce had a pledge from corporate management that Lana’s belongings would be delivered tomorrow afternoon even if they had to pay the crew triple-time to get it done.
There, Bruce thought, nothing like a little influence to get things done. His bruised body was aching in places he didn’t even remember having by the time Alfred found him in his office and frog-marched him to bed for some sleep. As his dutiful manservant closed the extra-heavy drapes, Bruce’s last thought before visiting slumber land was, I’ve helped those two out a bit, I hope they make use of it.