Title: Silent Exchanges
Prompt: #13 Gift Wrap
Category: Humor, UST
Spoilers: Through Bride
Summary: Sometimes the best gifts aren't the ones we're expecting.
Word Count: 1349
A/N: Written for the prompt #13 "GIFT WRAP" for 12days_of_clois Story takes place after Bride sometime and assumes that storyline is finished. This is currently unbetaed and I'm sorry about that. But I am happy to say this is my first clois challenege fic ever.
Disclaimer: Characters and universe doesn't belong to me. No copyright infringement intended. No profit being made.
"Lois, what are you doing?"
"What does it look like I'm doing?"
She let out a heavy grunt as she kicked the desk, nearly toppling the half-wrapped present on its edge.
Clark stared at the desk. "Looks like another disaster to me."
Lois sighed and folded her arms. The gift was lost in a sea of red and green gift-wrap, most of which was completely mangled by the ungodly amount of tape smothering it.
Maybe it was a disaster. But she would never admit it.
"You're not supposed to be in here anyway," she mumbled.
"At the Daily Planet? Last I checked I worked here."
He frowned and leaned over her desk. "Wasn't Christmas three months ago?"
"For you, maybe, but some of us were busy elsewhere." When he grew uncomfortably quiet, she shrugged her shoulder and aimed for the gift once again. "Hey, no peeking."
Clark's eyes brightened. "This is for me?"
"Don't flatter yourself, Smallville. I got something for everyone."
She folded yet another layer of gaudy Christmas wrap over the box only to become dismayed when it crumbled and bunched. Angry, Lois tucked in her knee and slammed her shoe on the top to ground the wrapping paper while she slapped some more tape down.
Stupid cheap gift-wrap.
"At this rate, there won't be any gift left," she heard Clark snicker.
Lois smacked the finishing bow on the box and shoved it into Clark's bumbling arms. "There. All set."
"Do I need some advanced warning?' He shook it. "One of Lois Lane's patented family fruitcakes?"
"Just be thankful it isn't," she said dryly. Then she took a step back and smiled. "Go ahead. Open it."
"I don't know, Lois. You went to all that trouble to wrap it…"
She rolled her eyes. "Open it."
"You're just full of the Christmas spirit, aren't you?"
"Just because everyone had Christmas without me doesn't mean I can't have some Christmas joy." She tapped at the box.
Any of his teasing shyness was gone as the big grin she knew and loved took over. Like a little kid at Christmas, he tore open the wrapping paper and looked down at the box. "A Daily Planet newspaper packing box." He lifted his head and arched his eyebrows. "Just what I've always wanted."
"You're a regular comedian today."
Clark just laughed as he started to open the box. The mischievousness quickly faded and he stared at the gift inside. Carefully, he reached into the box and withdrew the frame. "Wow, Lois," he said, his voice soft. "I don't know what to say."
Lois straightened her back and grinned. "I may tease you from time to time, but no one can say I'm not proud of my little, uh, big protégé."
"It's my first article." He knocked at the casing. "In plastic."
"Can't be too careful. I've seen the way you handle things back at the farm." Before he had a chance to open his mouth, Lois held up her hand and stopped him, shaking her head. "No need to thank me. Just think of it this way. You'll have something fond to look back on when you're a reporter on the beat."
"Or when I get my first Pulitzer."
"Don't push it, Smallville."
He grinned. "Speaking of Christmas…" He reached in back of his waist and pulled out a small card. Without a word, he handed it to her.
He blinked. "A card?"
"Really?" She accepted the card. "Here I thought it was an elephant."
He snorted. "Just open it."
"Pushy." But Lois did as she was told. She sliced through the top with her nail before she slid the card out of the envelope. Part of her half expected a corny musically choir to start singing her Jingle Bells and while she wouldn't put it beyond Clark, she realized he had gone for Mr. Sensitive today over Goofball.
The card was a sweet one, talking about cherished moments and other sappy daytime TV crap that she promised herself never to ever get mixed up with again. But it wasn't the Hallmark poetry that stopped her cold. Instead, it was the pair of tickets that were nestled inside the fold of the card.
Many who saw those two tickets might just shrug them off and think it was no big deal. Anyone but Lois.
"The Metro Festival."
Clark nodded. "Not as great as the Sweet Corn Festival in Smallville, but somehow I thought you'd appreciate this more."
"I haven't been since I was a kid," she said softly. "I still remember it like it was yesterday. My Dad took me. That was before…" She sighed. "I haven't wanted to go with anyone since then."
"I know. I thought maybe you would want to go with me."
Then another thought dawned on her.
Her eyes widened. "This isn't…"
"A date?" Clark let out a nervous chuckle. "Oh no. Just friends. Of course."
She nodded and let out an uneasy laugh of her own. "Of course."
"Plus, I know how much you like your Coney Island hot dogs." When she didn't say anything, she noticed Clark had started to shift his weight to side to side, the flustered look she knew all too well threatening to take over. "It's okay, Lois, if you don't want—"
"No, it's fine." She forced a smile and waved the tickets. "Who doesn't want to go to teen date central?" She bit her lip, realizing how wrong her tone sounded. "I'm sure we'll find something to do there. Who knows? Maybe they'll be some trouble and I can finally catch a glimpse of the enigmatic Red and Blue Blur."
He sighed. "Or we could relax."
"Always on the clock, Clark." She nodded once before she shoved the tickets back into the card and then into her purse. "Good rule to remember."
"More than you know."
She frowned. "What?"
He shook his head. "That reminds me. I one last thing to show you."
"Oh please don't tell me it is the Sweet Corn Festival."
He chuckled. "No, but come here. I'll show you."
Lois eyed him closely as he started to guide her by the elbow to the mailroom. She was both curious and a little anxious over what could be going through his mind. Clark was a tried and true kind of guy; what you see is what you get. Surprises didn't jive well with a man so predictable he made predictability seem spontaneous.
He paused at the doorway to the mailroom.
"Some fat guy in a rented Santa suit isn't going to come and ask me if I've been naughty or nice, is he?"
"Of course not." Clark bumped her inside. "We all know you've been naughty."
"The lights flashed on and the room sprung to life. "Merry Christmas!"
Lois blinked. The room was decorated from top to bottom with mistletoe, wreaths, garland, icicles and whatever other holiday decorations could be found in the Christmas bargain bin. But despite the mishmash of items, the Christmas tree burned hard and bright. Plus, on the side she found a table filled with donuts and coffee and other assorted treats from the café across the street.
Most importantly, the room was filled with various Daily Planet staff, many whom she has never seen before. She had an anxious moment where she thought Clark the boy scout had paid a bunch of bums off the street to play Christmas party, until she recognized Phil the crazy horoscope guy and Ron Troupe.
She gaped at them. She didn't know what to say.
"Now that's how you wrap a Christmas gift." His proud grin little up the room, outshining the Christmas tree. He leaned close to her and whispered, "Merry Christmas, Lois."
She couldn't help but smile, soaking in the warmth of the smiles of everyone in the room, the decorations, and the sheer happiness that made the mailroom glow. These were the best gifts, these silent and thoughtful exchanges, especially with all the darkness in their lives.
She turned to Clark and the staff and beamed. "Merry Christmas."