From part 1...

"Clark, why don't we get out of here right now? One filing clerk isn't going to stop us."

"No, but we can't afford anyone knowing we were here," Clark replied reasonably. "If they find out we overheard the meeting, they'll change their shipping schedule."

Lois acknowledged the point with a frustrated grunt, and fell silent. Clark had another look at Pendleton's computer screen. He seemed to be searching for tropical holiday resorts, and Clark wondered whether the Jacksons knew their clerk was planning an overseas trip. Clark found himself thinking about flying Lois to a tropical island... picnicking in the shade of palm trees, next to a cobalt sea... Lois wearing a brief bikini, asking him to spread sunblock on her shoulders... He searched desperately for something, anything, to take his mind off Lois.

And now, read on...

Attack was the best form of defence, Lois decided, even when it came to confronting her feelings. Once before, she had flung caution to the winds and pursued Clark with single-minded determination. In the intervening months she had studiously avoided exploring those memories, but perhaps they were just the medicine she needed now. Failing the possibility of taking a cold shower, a healthy dose of mortification ought to restore her sense of proportion.

Because for two days, while she had tried every feminine wile at her disposal to seduce him, he had remained politely, graciously, but nevertheless resolutely uninterested. She closed her eyes and relived the worst of the cringe-inducing moments...

... her first advances, when she had hoisted a leg onto his desk and tried to vamp him... It had failed dismally - he had thought she was trying to cadge a favour, which showed just how shallow he must think her.

... grabbing his tie, forcing him back against the wall and trying to kiss him... He had simply acquired a hunted look - the same one he had always got when Cat came on to him - and skittered away from her.

... strewing rose petals all over the newsroom... She would never have lived that down, if it hadn't been for the fact that nearly all her colleagues had been doing the same sort of thing, even descending to pink heart-shaped balloons.

... and, to crown it all, renting a belly dancer's costume, going round to his apartment, and performing the Dance of the Seven Veils... Her cheeks were crimson at the recollection. How incredibly tacky and cheap! And what must Clark have thought of her? What had he said? "You don't know how many times I've thought about this, dreamt about this - well, something like this -"

Her eyes flew open. That couldn't be right, could it? If Clark had been attracted to her, he wouldn't have had any hesitation about taking what she had so blatantly been offering. Actually, no, she had to admit that wasn't true: knowing Clark's overdeveloped conscience, he would have. But speculating about whether Clark was attracted to her was the last thing she needed right now.

She should focus on how she'd felt in the morning, waking up and realising what a complete fool she'd made of herself. Yes, that would do it. She'd felt unbearably humiliated! And the first thing she'd heard had been... had been Clark saying, in anguished tones, "Lois, I can't take it any more. If you really want me, I'm yours."

This just wasn't working at all! She was supposed to be scarifying herself out of any romantic feelings towards Clark; instead, she was coming to the conclusion that he'd been attracted to her - perhaps in love with her - for a very long time. Was her memory playing tricks on her, or had she simply been completely blind? She could no longer deny that, with her inhibitions removed by the pheromone, her instincts had led her straight to the right man. She hadn't even looked twice at Lex.

What would have happened if she had taken just a little longer to recover? Would Clark finally have taken her in his arms, and...

She opened her eyes and berated herself. Enough day-dreaming, Lois! Concentrate on the here and now!

Unfortunately, the here and now included the feel of Clark's muscular thighs under her, his arm against her back, his warm breath on her shoulder...

She was feeling very hot and breathless once again. Her black polo-neck sweater was ideal attire for snooping around offices in the dark, but it left something to be desired when locked in a tiny closet with her unreasonably attractive partner.

Lois shifted uncomfortably and heard Clark's breath catch in his throat. She sat perfectly still for a full minute, her eyes wide, as she considered the implications. The only conclusion she could draw was that he wasn't as unaffected by their close proximity as he would like to pretend. His breathing had resumed, but to her newly attentive ear it seemed somewhat heavy, and his arm was shaking slightly.

"Clark, what are you thinking about?" she said abruptly.

He started. "Thorium," he said without thinking.

Her eyebrows climbed. "Thorium?" she echoed.

"Yes, thorium," he replied sheepishly. "Atomic number 90. Chemical symbol Th. Radioactive metal in the actinide series."

"You're a strange one, Clark," she observed. She shifted her weight and ran her hand up his arm, hearing him suck in his breath. "Are you comfortable?" she enquired solicitously. "Your arm is trembling."

"I'm fine," he said hoarsely, and Lois smiled to herself. A daredevil spirit she scarcely recognised was taking hold of her.

"It's hot in here, isn't it?" she said. "Can you hold me steady while I take my sweater off?" Without waiting for his response she bent forward, and felt his hands move to her waist. She pulled her sweater off over her head and dropped it on top of her bag, then leant back against Clark's shoulder, lifting a hand to rearrange her hair. She was wearing a thin cotton camisole top, and Clark's ragged breath raised gooseflesh on the skin of her shoulder.

He let go of her, but she intercepted his arm before he could move it back to the shelf, tucking it around her waist instead. "That's much more comfortable, isn't it?" she asked.

He had to clear his throat before he could answer. "Yes, thank you," he said without conviction.

"So tell me, why are you thinking about thorium?" she enquired.

"I'm not," he responded. "I'm thinking about radon. Atomic number 86. Chemical symbol Rn. Radioactive noble gas."

She nodded. "Clark, why are you reciting the Periodic Table backwards?"

There was a brief silence. "It, er, passes the time..." he said hesitantly.

"It isn't just a way to keep your mind off other things, then?" she said deliberately. She paused and put a hand on his arm at her waist. "I mean, here we are, sitting close together... much closer than we usually do... I'm sitting on your lap, and you've got your arm around me..."

He swallowed convulsively. "Lois, can we please talk about something else?" he pleaded, a note of desperation in his low voice.

"I can feel your breath on my skin," she continued relentlessly. She stroked her fingers gently up his arm and then down again, interlacing them with his. "Your mouth must be very close to me. If it were any closer, you'd be... kissing my shoulder."

His arm tightened around her and she held her breath, awaiting his response.

Clark's self-control had been under siege ever since he had lifted Lois onto his lap. He had been trying with all his might to ignore the delightful physical sensations that she aroused in him, and to think of something besides the temptation to cover her with adoring kisses. It took some time to percolate through to his overloaded brain that, far from being her usual prickly and untouchable self, Lois was actually encouraging him to give in and act out the dream he had cherished ever since he had first met her; and when it did, he could scarcely bring himself to believe it.

He checked her pulse and respiration rate reflexively. Her heart was going like a trip-hammer, and she was holding her breath. The skin of her face and neck was flushed. All the signs were that she was as aroused as he was...

"Do you think that kissing your shoulder would be a good idea?" he asked. His voice seemed to have dropped an octave.

She let out her breath on a long sigh. "I think it would be a pleasant way to pass the time," she said demurely.

Clark felt delight suffuse his entire being. With a final vestige of caution he hooked one foot under a step to prevent any tendency to float away. Then he bent his head forward and let his lips brush the soft skin of her shoulder, sweeping slowly across from the strap of her top towards her neck. "Something like that?" he suggested.

A tremor ran through Lois's whole body and she melted bonelessly against him, her head tilting invitingly to the side. "I don't think you got it quite right," she teased breathlessly. "You'll have to try again..."

He grinned and tightened his arm about her, pulling her gently closer. He lifted his free hand to her temple and ran his fingers through her hair, tucking it back from her ear and neck. He drew a gentle finger across the skin thus exposed, from behind her ear, down her neck and out across her shoulder. He cupped the point of her shoulder and dipped his head again to retrace the trail with soft, nibbling kisses. Lois moaned and lifted her hand to his head, running her fingers through his hair and stroking the nape of his neck.

Across the corridor, the music changed to a loud rap song. Clark winced and lifted his head. "Somehow, when I dreamed about kissing you, I always imagined the musical accompaniment being more romantic!" he murmured into Lois's ear.

Lois's eyes opened wide as she processed that piece of information. Clark had been dreaming of kissing her? So she had been completely blind...

Then both of them froze as the music abruptly ceased. In the sudden hush, they could hear Pendleton switching his computer off, and his footsteps crossing the office towards them. The lights in the office suite were doused one by one, until darkness reigned supreme.

As Clark heard the lock of the outer door snap shut he let out the breath he had been holding. "I guess that means we can finally go home," he said, with a trace of regret.

"Not so fast, partner," Lois said, stirring at last. She disengaged her fingers from his and swung her legs around so that she could face him, ignoring the sudden clatter as she knocked a pile of boxes off a shelf. "We have some unfinished business to attend to first."

She felt for him carefully, looping one arm around his neck. She explored his chest with the other hand, running it under the edge of his shirt to feel the softness of his skin and the firm muscles beneath, taking her time, feeling the hammering of his pulse while he sat quiescent under her touch. Then she stroked gently up the side of his strong throat and ran her fingers down the line of his jaw, smiling appreciatively as she felt his breathing quicken.

Clark had been watching her absorbed face in wonderment, some distant corner of his mind thanking his lucky stars that he had chosen not to wear the suit under his clothes this evening. When she smiled, his heart turned over. He captured her hand in his, carrying it to his lips and pressing a kiss into the palm. "Lois, you are so beautiful!" he said huskily.

She laughed merrily. "Clark, it's too dark for you to see a thing!" she remonstrated. "And that reminds me..." She felt up the sides of his head with both hands and removed his glasses carefully. "You don't need these," she said, fumbling for a shelf behind him and putting the glasses down.

"I guess..." Clark's voice died as she leant forward and kissed him.

Her kiss was tentative at first, growing more assured as she felt his response. He wrapped his arms securely around her, closed his eyes, and gave himself up to pure sensation. Her scent was all around him, warmer and somehow spicier than usual, and her heartbeat was keeping time with his. He could feel her soft lips against his, and taste her... He ran his tongue across her full bottom lip, and her mouth opened, inviting him deeper. Gently, he probed the warm cavern of her mouth, stroking one hand up her spine to the nape of her neck. As his hand met the bare skin of her shoulders she shuddered and moaned, arching her back against him. Every cell in his body was alive with his desire for this beautiful woman...

Somewhere in the dim recesses of his brain, Clark became aware that warning bells were sounding. He didn't know what had sparked the sudden intimacy between them, and if things got out of control... would Lois ever speak to him again? He lifted his head and took a deep breath, willing himself back to earth again. Lois murmured in protest; then he felt her lips against his throat, and her hand stroked tantalisingly across his chest. He grasped her hand and lifted it to his cheek. "Lois... we should stop," he said breathlessly.

Lois stilled, withdrawing slightly to lean her head against his shoulder. "You don't want this to happen?" she asked softly, puzzled and a little hurt.

Clark sighed raggedly and his hand moved to cradle her head as he chose his words carefully. "I don't want us to do anything we'll regret later," he said, forcing the words out through a mouth that felt numb. It wanted to be kissing her, not talking... Lois didn't reply, and he soldiered on. "Let's get out of here and go somewhere we can be sure we won't be interrupted. Then we can talk."

"Okay, Clark," she agreed reluctantly. "Just tell me one thing first... are you going to say we should just be friends?"

The silence lengthened as he searched desperately for the right answer. Either a yes or a no risked damaging their relationship. "Lois... you're my best friend," he said finally. "I don't want to lose you. What do you want me to say?"

Lois expelled a breath she hadn't known she was holding. "You had your fingers crossed behind your back, that day outside the Planet, didn't you?" she asked.

"Yes, I did," he admitted nervously. Sneaking a look at Lois's face, he was relieved to see a brilliant smile light up her face.

"Good," she said with satisfaction. "In that case, let's move this... conversation... elsewhere." She drew his head down and pressed a last, lingering kiss on his lips. "You lunkhead," she said affectionately. "I knew I should have gone first. Come on."

"Lunkhead?" he said.

His only answer was a chuckle as she slid off his lap. Several more items fell from the shelves. "Oops," she said cheerfully. "Where's your flashlight?"

He picked it up off a shelf and handed it to her wordlessly. She switched it on and rummaged through her bag to produce a lockpick. "We'll be out of here in no time," she said brightly, and turned to the door. Then her eyes grew wide. "Clark, there's no keyhole this side!" she squeaked in dismay.

Clark grinned and peered past her to inspect the door. "Do you have a nail file in that bag?" he enquired.

"A nail file?" she asked crossly. "Why do men always assume women carry nail files around with them? And what do you want it for?"

"We could use it to take those screws out and get the lock off," he explained.

"Oh!" She dug in her bag again. "How about this instead?" she said triumphantly, producing a screwdriver with a flourish.

"Very impressive," he admitted, taking it from her. "Do you do this sort of thing often?"

"That's a bit of a dumb question, Kent," she replied pertly. "Of course I do." She scooted over to let him reach past her to the lock, and he dropped to one knee to address the task. She trained the flashlight on the lock for him; then, looking down at his dark hair with a gleam in her eyes, she threaded the fingers of her other hand into it, stroking the back of his head and the nape of his neck.

Struggling to keep himself down to human speed, Clark felt the last screw come free and the lock drop into his hand. He dumped everything onto the nearest shelf and then, in one swift movement, stood up and pulled Lois into his arms. As his face came down to hers, Lois dropped the flashlight and wound her arms around him. He kissed her with a thoroughness that left both of them breathless by the time he released her and stepped back. She gazed at him wide-eyed, thinking how different his face looked - no longer mild and easy-going, but determined and full of character. Was it just the change in their relationship that made her think so, or had she never really looked at him closely before?

He picked up her sweater and handed it to her. "Let's go," he said gruffly, turning to pick up his glasses from the back shelf.

Lois quickly donned her sweater and picked up her bag before opening the door and stepping out into the corridor. She waited while Clark replaced the lock and restored the closet to its former condition, stacking the disturbed items neatly back in their places and even remembering to block up the hole in the wall once again.

Then the closet door was closed and locked, and the sound of footsteps receded up the corridor for the last time that night.

The End.