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Title: Several Weaknesses … Only a Few Regrets
Fandom: Smallville
Pairing/Character(s): Lois/Tess
Rating: PG-13
Disclaimer: all characters belong to CW/DC Comics
Word Count: 2625
Spoilers/Warnings: set in s8, AU/femslash
Summary: Lois thinks she’ll be spending the holidays alone, but she gets an unexpected visitor.
Author's Notes: written for the FemSlash Advent Calendar: Dead of Winter 2010; thanks to my beta, [profile] boltgirl426, for all her help and coming up with the title!

“It’s the most wonderful time of the year …”

“Yeah?” Lois retorted, glaring at the radio. “Says who?”

This definitely was not the most wonderful time of the year. In fact, it was just the opposite. The past few weeks had been miserable. Jimmy was in the hospital, going through surgery after surgery, while Chloe was still missing.

Then there was Clark … and Lana. No, don’t think about that. Yes, that would be pining and Lois Lane didn’t pine. The rejection (and she didn’t care what Oliver said; she had been rejected) stung, but she would move on.

At least she was in Star City, hundreds of miles away from Smallville, so she could move on without seeing Clark and Lana together everywhere. The distance dulled the pain. But being alone on this holiday still wasn’t easy. Tomorrow was Christmas Eve and she wished she could be anywhere but there.

Right now, she was staying at Oliver’s mansion. He had insisted that it was stupid that she should pay for a hotel when his home had more than enough room. Since he caught her at a weak moment, she gave in.

However, even Oliver was still in Metropolis, so the house felt very large and lonely. She spent most of her days at the hospital, but going to the place she was temporarily calling home was not a pleasant feeling.

Stopping at a light, she made a quick decision. Instead of going straight, she turned left, heading toward downtown. Since it was only Wednesday, she didn’t have much trouble finding parking.

Stepping into The Red Devil, a popular lounge that she had spent quality time at over the past couple of weeks, she headed straight for the bar and took a seat. Today had been a particularly tough day and she just needed a drink.

“Your usual?” asked the bartender, whose name was Roxanne. She was gorgeous, with curly brown hair, bright blue eyes and a dimpled smile. Though Lois hadn’t been with a woman in years, she was definitely bisexual and could appreciate a good-looking woman. It didn’t hurt that Roxanne flirted with her all the time. Most nights, Lois let herself flirt back, though it was just in fun.

“Yes please,” she replied.

“How’s the brother-in-law?” she asked, while working. Since Chloe was really like a sister to her, Lois referred to Jimmy as her brother-in-law. After all, cousin-in-law just sounded weird.

“No better, but not worse either,” Lois answered, shrugging. On a more emotional night and after a tequila too many, Lois had spilled her situation and she had been quite sympathetic.

Shooting her a smile, Roxanne said, “Well, if you ever need any … comfort, I’m off in a couple of hours.” What Lois appreciated about Roxanne is that she knew when to push and when to let go. It was probably what made her such a good bartender.

“I’ll keep that in mind,” Lois replied, grinning back.

Roxanne looked like she was going to say something else but a third voice interrupted.

“Well, I see you’ve been making productive use of your time here.”

With those words, Lois’s stomach sank. She knew who it was before she turned around. Taking a deep breath, she spun around in her chair and met the green eyes of Tess Mercer.

Her boss had that amused expression on her face, which never failed to make Lois feel like she was being judged and not exactly living up, but there was also a look in her eyes that Lois just couldn’t read. It made her feel a bit uncomfortable, though she made an effort not to show it. What was Tess doing in Star City anyway?

“Tess,” she said stiffly, finding her voice. “I don’t believe what I do in my free time is any of your business.”

“I didn’t realize that making a general statement would bring about such a defensive reaction,” Tess remarked, smirking.

“You never make general statements,” Lois pointed out, raising an eyebrow.

Roxanne chose this moment to interrupt, clearly sensing the tension. “Can I get you anything to drink?” she asked, directing her question towards Tess.

Tess shifted her gaze from Lois to Roxanne, as if she was just noticing her. “Just a White Russian, thanks.”

Clearly, Tess’s commanding vibe extended outside the office, as Roxanne just nodded in response and went to work on the drink. It wasn’t very hard to figure out that Tess Mercer didn’t take ‘no’ for an answer.

Without saying another word, Tess took the empty seat next to her. Within minutes, Roxanne returned with her drink, but didn’t stay long, as there were other customers needed her attention.

“Dare I ask what brings you to Star City?” Lois asked, being the first to break the silence.

“I had business here,” Tess replied vaguely.

“Last time I checked, Oliver was still in Metropolis,” she commented, taking a sip of her beer.

“Queen Industries is not the only company I do business with,” Tess said smoothly. Glancing at her pointedly, she added, “I’m not here for Oliver.”

“So, what?” Lois continued, willing herself to keep her tone casual, “You came all the way here to find out the whereabouts of your top basement reporter?”

Raising an eyebrow, Tess stated, “I assumed you would have returned to Smallville for the holidays.”

“I need to be here,” Lois said firmly. “To watch over Jimmy.”

“He has doctors to do that,” Tess pointed out. If she didn’t know better, she would’ve sworn she heard a note of sympathy in Tess’s tone. But that was ridiculous.

“Chloe would be here if she hadn’t disappeared,” Lois went on, as if she hadn’t even heard her. “So since she can’t be here, I am. It’s what she would’ve wanted me to do, and it’s what she would’ve done if the situation was reversed.”

“That’s some loyalty,” Tess commented.

“You may not be familiar with the word or the practice but not everyone is like that,” Lois hissed, standing up. She wasn’t even buzzed but Tess’s presence was leaving her intoxicated, her head spinning. Nobody had ever made her feel so … overwhelmed, and she didn’t like it. She didn’t like it at all.

“Sometimes, it’s better not to expect anything from anyone,” Tess stated simply, not seeming fazed by Lois’s harsh words. “That way, you don’t get disappointed.”

Much to her frustration, she felt a pang of sympathy for Tess. Someone, or more than one person, had made her this way. She found herself wondering who had let Tess down, who had disappointed her. No, don’t get wrapped up in her words. You don’t want to know.

“Though I am surprised,” Tess stated. “I never thought you’d be the type to idly wait around while other people searched for Chloe. The Lois that I know tends to get right in the middle of the action, whether she’s wanted there or not.”

“You don’t know me,” Lois argued, though inside she knew that Tess was right. She did feel restless and wished she could help find her cousin.

“Or do I know you too well?” Tess countered. “Perhaps there are other reasons that you’re not on the front lines … maybe two particular brunettes who have recently reunited?”

“I don’t care about Clark and Lana,” Lois said immediately. To her surprise, it wasn’t a lie. The reveal was a huge weight off her chest. Even more shocking was when she met Tess’s gaze and found the other woman to be smiling.

“And it was about time you realized that,” Tess explained. “It was only holding you back.”

To that, she didn’t have a response. “Why do you care?” she wondered aloud.

“Because resentment has a way of getting people to take … drastic measures,” Tess said slowly.

“You would know best,” Lois shot back.

“Which is why I can give out the most sound advice,” Tess said.

“For the record, I never resented Clark,” Lois said honestly. “We were never a couple and he didn’t owe me anything.”

It was easier to get over Clark than it should’ve been, making Lois wonder if she had developed feelings for him because of the fact he was the only guy who had stuck around and been there for her. Either way, she was better off.

Lois caught Tess watching her thoughtfully. “What?”

But Tess didn’t reply, just went back to her drink. Downing the last of it, she signaled to Roxanne, who made her way to them. Handing over her credit card, she gestured to Lois and said, “I’m paying for both our drinks.”

Normally, Lois would’ve protested but she was rendered speechless at the action. Roxanne glanced at her skeptically but took the credit card anyway.

“What are you doing?” Lois asked suspiciously.

“I’m buying your drink,” Tess said smoothly. “You look like you’re ready to leave anyway.”

Roxanne returned with the receipt and Tess quickly signed for it. Lois met Roxanne’s slightly concerned gaze but gave her a reassuring smile. She was going to leave after all.

“I’ll see you,” she told her.

Roxanne smiled back and nodded, though there was a doubt in her eyes at the statement. “You’ve been entertaining, Lane.”

“I live to amuse,” Lois joked. Feeling as if she was being watched, she looked over and saw Tess staring at her, with a guarded look on her face.

“Are you ready to go?” Tess questioned.

“Yeah, let’s hit the road,” Lois replied. Waving to Roxanne, she followed Tess out, though she had no idea why they were leaving together. Oh well, they’d separate once they were outside.

“Thanks for the drink,” she added, remembering her manners.

“You’re welcome,” was the only answer she got.

“Where are you staying?” Lois asked, as they walked toward their cars. She figured Tess would say goodnight after they went outside, but that wasn’t the case.

“The Luthors have property in Star City,” Tess explained. “I’m residing there.” Lois stopped at her car but before she could say goodbye, Tess continued, “Perhaps you would like to join me for a late drink … if there isn’t anything else you have to attend to.”

“No … I’m free,” Lois found herself saying. “Maybe we should do this where I'm staying. I’m sure Ollie has a better stash of alcohol here anyway and he did tell me to help myself.” She didn’t know why she was doing this … she trusted Tess as far as she could throw her, but she didn’t want to go home alone tonight.

“I will follow you then,” Tess was saying.

Lois nodded. What was the worst that could happen anyway?

Those were famous last words.

It was only the following morning that she realized that too. Waking up with a headache was never fun, but it was when she realized that she wasn’t alone in her bed did she begin to freak out.

Taking a few deep breaths, she turned and almost gasped aloud. Tess was lying there, and from the looks of it, she was naked.

Calm down, Lois, there’s no need to freak out … yet. But when she realized that she too was naked and there was no other explanation but the obvious one, Lois couldn’t help but begin to panic.

As memories rushed back, Lois frowned. Yes, they definitely had sex … amazing, passionate sex that left her wanting more. No, it was a mistake. It’s your boss for goodness sake … haven’t you gone down that road once before? Remember what a disaster it was? At least Grant was a nice guy … you can’t trust this woman.

Shifting, she observed Tess, marveling at how innocent she looked when she slept. She couldn’t help but think of the open conversation they were able to have once the alcohol loosened their inhibitions. Why Tess chose to act that way with her of all people, Lois didn’t know. But Lois had revealed just as much.

Getting up, she found a robe and went to the bathroom to get freshened up. When she returned, Tess was awake, staring out, clearly lost in thought.

“Good morning,” she offered. Tess started at the sound, an uncharacteristic look of surprise crossing her features.

“Good morning,” Tess replied.

“Umm … do you want breakfast?” Lois offered, unsure of how else to begin the conversation.

“You cook?” Tess quizzed, smirking.

“Okay … not breakfast … coffee at least?” Lois corrected. “I can make coffee.”

“Or,” Tess suggested. “You can give me some time to get freshened up and we could go out for breakfast.”

“Together?” Lois squeaked, hating herself for behaving this way.

“That was the plan,” Tess said … and was she teasing her? This was new. Tess stood up and Lois tried her best not to stare (and failed) as her naked body was revealed. Gracefully, she made her way across the wrong and without even asking, found one of Lois’s silk robes and slipped it on.

Meeting Lois’s gaze, she said, “Well, I figured I ought to wear something if we’re to talk. Unless you prefer me naked?”

“No, no… I was just … surprised.” Again, lame. Lois was a journalist; she should more eloquent than this. But when faced with Tess Mercer, she assumed very few people could hold their ground. “And what do you mean talk?”

“Well, last night is obviously running through your mind so we should get that out of the way,” Tess pointed out.

“Get it out of the way?” Lois echoed.

“Perhaps deal with it is a better phrase?” Tess suggested, taking a seat on the bed once more.

“So? What? You want to make sure that I won’t go around telling people of your bisexuality and the fact you’re willing to sleep with your employees?” Lois asked hotly, crossing her arms across her chest.

“You don’t scare me, Lane,” Tess replied, green eyes glittering with amusement. “At least not in that way, because you’d have to admit you slept with your boss.”

Leaning against a wall, Lois said, “I doubt anything scares you.”

“You’d be surprised,” Tess countered. Pausing for a moment, she said, “I don’t think last night was a mistake.”

“You don’t?” Lois repeated. “But … but we were drunk.”

“Not that drunk,” Tess reminded her. “You knew what you were doing and so did I. If I recall, you wanted it just as much as I did. You said you’re tired of being alone, of being disappointed.”

“What’s your point?” Lois said, throat tightening. “So we found company for the night. It’s not a mistake but it won’t happen again either.”

“Only if you don’t let it happen again,” Tess said, standing up. “It could happen ...”

“We shouldn’t,” Lois said, her heart racing as Tess closed the distance between them.

“But we did,” Tess said, stopping inches away from her. “You want me … I can always tell …” Without another word, Tess captured Lois’s lips in a kiss. Automatically, Lois responded, her arms wrapping around Tess’s back, pulling her closer.

Tess’s hands found their way around Lois’s neck as the kiss grew more passionate. They pulled away only when the need for air became overwhelming but by then Tess had clearly proven her point.

“Here’s the thing,” Tess said, her tone husky. “I want you too.”

“It’s not like Tess Mercer to admit to a weakness,” Lois joked, trying to catch her breath.

“I don’t consider you a weakness, Lois Lane,” Tess murmured, leaning forward once more.

“I’m probably going to regret this in the future,” Lois whispered, but she was moving closer again too.

“Then regret it then and enjoy now,” Tess said, as their lips met once more.

That was exactly what she would do.

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