Title: Needle in the Hay
Author: Marcy (DHCgirl)
Disclaimer: No infringement is intended, no profit is made.
Distribution: Prologue, Kryptonsite, DTS, My Site; anyone else, just drop me a note.
Notes: So after scanning the boards and seeing overwhelming disappointment due to the lack of resolution in Lois' Spell appearance, I sat down and whipped this out as a one shot dealy. HUGE THANKS go to my two beta's: Krytponsite's Maus and DTS' usaeve. You guys really helped me clean some stuff up and straiten out some narrative wonkiness. Also like to give a thanks to Boston's fabulous 101.7 WFNX for piping in a fabulous soundtrack by which to write.
Plea: I'd also like to make a formal request for more Clois fics. If you have even the slightest interest in attempting to write these two, go for it. At the very least you'll have a good time.
Feedback: Much appreciated.
I want you more
More than I ever thought I would
I want you moreMore than I ever should
- "Cold Shower" Dance Hall Crashers
Clark tossed a wad of crumpled streamers into the trashcan. He looked around the loft that it had taken him and Lois two hours to decorate, a mob of enchanted teens twenty minutes to trash, and his parents two seconds to pin on him. Despite his best efforts, the fast excuses had fallen on deaf ears. He had been sentenced to clean up the entire barn without the aid of a single superpower, a punishment that could be easily classified as cruel and unusual. His mom had placed a broom in one hand and an apple in the other, and wished him a sympathetic good luck before shooing him out of the house.
Clumps of pink and white birthday cake speckled the wooden beams of the barn. Articles of clothing littered the dirt floor like New Year's Eve confetti. Bits of shredded silver garland twinkled mockingly all around him. They'd be the hardest to pick up. Like a million needles in a haystack. Literally.
Clark took a bite out of what he could only assume would be his breakfast, lunch, and dinner and sighed. It was going to be a long day.
"So I received an interesting phone call this morning,"
Her voice brought his head up, and snapped it towards the barn's entrance. Lois strode through the open doors, leaving a line of frosting-streaked dirt in her wake. She had ditched the black dress and boots for a pair of faded jeans and yellow tank top. Her hair was pulled back in a loose ponytail, a look that suited her far more than the hard, gelled angles of her witchy do. She produced her cell phone from her back pocket and gave it a shake.
"My friendly Visa customer service representative wanted to report some suspicious activity with my credit card. Seems like dropping five hundred dollars in assorted clothing and merchandise at the Vinyl Shack was uncharacteristic of my typical spending habits." Just when he thought she might just plow right through him, she stopped short. "And despite all the safe guards in place, possession by the dead doesn't constitute identity theft. Go figure, huh?"
Clark studied her carefully for a moment before asking, "So you know about--"
"The bewitched body jacking?" she interrupted, lopping off his thought in typical Lois fashion. "Yeah, Lana stopped by and filled us in. It was kind of comforting actually. Nineteen is far too young for my first psychotic episode."
Clark eyeballed her. He wasn't sure if he was buying the blasé act. "So you're okay?"
"Me? Fine. Nice and exorcised. I mean, it was a little distressing this morning when I couldn't find my...well, never mind." Lois plucked the apple from his hand and took a bite. She ignored his horrified look completely, and continued. "But between you and me I think all this hocus pocus has got my cousin spooked. She found something eerily resembling blood underneath her fingernails. She's been kind of tweaking."
Clark glanced over her shoulder to where her car was parked outside to find the passenger's seat was empty. "Where is Chloe?"
"Currently on her way to the Metropolis Cultural Center for opening night of La Bayadere. Lana came up with tickets as a birthday present slash please-don't-be-mad-that-I-invoked-evil-spirits peace offering." After her third bite, she held up the half eaten apple in her own backwards gesture of camaraderie. Clark shook his head. She gave him a 'your loss' look and tossed it into a nearby box.
"Why didn't you go?"
Lois shrugged. "Not much of a ballet fan. Guys in tights don't really do it for me." Her look turned sour. "Plus now that I have to eat that bill from Sluts R Us my social outings are going to have to be of the bargain basement variety for a while."
Clark grabbed the cardboard box by their feet, the apple core making a wet thump as it made contact with the side. "Well, you're not the only one who took a hit. I officially blew it with Princeton," he said, heading towards the mottled pile of deflated balloons by his father's tractor.
Lois followed, tightly in tow. "Oh. Yeah. Sorry about that."
"It wasn't your fault," he assured her, albeit, halfheartedly.
"Yeah, it kinda was. I promised that this party would be fine and it nose-dived." He turned to find her looking entirely sincere. He nodded, accepting her apology. "Why not get Luthor's help? He seems to have a way with admissions offices."
The thought had crossed his mind, but ultimately he had decided against it. Clark in his boxers. A barn full of scantily clad coeds. "There are limits to even Lex's power."
"There's always Met U," Lois offered, playfully.
Clark barked a laugh. "You and I on the same campus? I don't think we'd survive. "
"I'd keep you in line, Kent." She arched a daring brow.
He took her up on the challenge. "And how would you do that?"
She leaned forward, the corners of her mouth turning up in a wicked smile. "You forget, I'm now the proud owner of a leather riding crop."
Clark gulped at the implications, intended or not. And when the realization finally hit that one of her flip remarks had actually gotten away from her, Lois stepped back awkwardly and her cheeks flushed crimson. Clark couldn't help but notice that embarrassment was a very flattering look on Lois Lane.
Their dynamic was confusing to say the least. An odd mixture of verbal barbs and mutual appreciation.
His mother had teased him for not seeing through its grade school logic. "The one who shoves you into the mud puddle is the one who likes you the most," she'd explained. Off of Clark's scoff his father had added, "She does show up an awful lot." He had quickly dismissed this too. It was hard to accept that their contentious relationship was anything more than a simple clash of personalities. He refused to believe that those kind of feelings where buried somewhere inside of her, let alone him. But he was beginning to wonder...
"Hey, Chloe never opened her gift." Clark was relieved when she changed the subject, pulling the breaks on a train of thought that was rapidly taking him to a place that he wasn't sure he was ready to go. But still he registered the slight hitch in her voice. He wasn't used to seeing Lois thrown off her game. It was a new experience.
She blew past him, avoiding any unnecessary eye contact.
"With everything – um - that happened I didn't get around to – uh - giving it to her," he babbled nervously, his sentence coming out in stilted pieces.
As much as he hated to acknowledge that he had any sort of effect on Lois, he was becoming increasingly aware that she had the ability to render him tongue-tied as well. And not solely out of exasperation.
And that part was definitely new.
He turned to find her halfway across the room.
"Between satisfying a leather fetish and world domination who's got time to unwrap, right?" she quipped, before turning her attention to the bright blue box. "Jeez, Smallville, how much tape did you use on this thing?" She used that ruthless tone that he was sure she reserved exclusively for him.
He frowned. "Not that much..." Honestly, he didn't think it looked that bad...
"How many kinds of paper did you use?"
Clark was floundering. "Just one..." He saddled up beside her and the two evaluated the present with disparate degrees of appreciation.
As if to prove a point, with a flick of the finger she thwapped the big, red bow that sat limp, and just off center. It sprung to attention and then fell dead. "For my birthday you better just skip the gift wrap altogether," she said, giving his chest a quick, condescending pat.
"And how does one wrap nothing, exactly?"
She just grinned up at him. If he didn't know any better, he'd say she almost looked proud. As if he was a successful graduate of the Lois Lane school of snarkdom.
"Wow." Lois looked around the room wide eyed as she appraised it thoroughly for seemingly the first time. She bent over and picked up a splintered wedge of what used to be his mother's punchbowl. "Now I know we're in Kansas, so the cliché factor is all the more high, but it looks like a tornado hit this place."
"Yeah. High schoolers and magic. Not the best combination."
"Ahh...so more like Hurricane Hormone."
"I guess so."
She took the box from him. "Here, let me help you. It's the least I can do."
"The bare minimum, actually," Clark mumbled.
If she heard him, she didn't show it. Instead she plodded along, picking through the evening's sparkly detritus. She sifted through heaps of crepe paper, some of it actually finding the trashcan, but most being dropped by the wayside. It looked suspiciously more like an investigation than a clean up effort.
Clark watched Lois carefully. His own personal tornado.
She'd burst into his life with the grace of a bull in a china shop, flipped his predictable world on its side and left him dizzy. But despite what anyone else said, if she was anything more to him than an annoyance, well, he'd be very surprised.
"Are you sure you're okay?"
Lois nodded, distractedly. She hoisted herself up on a hay bale and peaked over into one of the feed stalls. When her search proved fruitless, she hopped down, dejectedly. The second her feet hit the ground he was right there waiting.
She made a move to step around him, but he quickly ran interception. Cornered, she took a steadying breath before pulling her gaze up to meet his own. "It's scary, Clark. Having something happen to you that you are completely powerless to stop."
He had never seen Lois Lane so unguarded. She wasn't one to admit that something had actually affected her. Shook her confidence, even for a moment. He was tempted to press her on it, but he held his tongue. He had to wonder, though, if she was still talking about the possession.
Sensing she had said too much, Lois backpedaled. "One minute you're planning a surprise party, the next you're dressed like a dominatrix."
"I thought it was kind of nice." Blurry images of Lois in the tight, black corset swirled in his mind.
She looked at him like he had lost it. "I guess there's no accounting for taste." He waited for her to make a crack about his flannel shirt, but it never came. Instead she set out on a hunt behind the wall of hay Clark had stacked the day before.
"Is there something you're not telling me?"
"What?" Her voice came from somewhere above him. He figured she had made her way up onto the stepladder. Searching for what? He still had no idea.
"Lois, are you looking for something?" he called.
When Clark heard a squeaky scream, and a hay-muffled thud he had to assume that she was no longer on the ladder. He bit back a smile when Lois reappeared, scowling, bits of straw sticking in her hair. She blew the messy bangs from her eyes with a fast puff of air and stalked over until they were toe to toe.
"No," she said determinedly. Then just as determinedly, "Yes."
Lois groaned, visibly annoyed at the prospect of being caught. Clark just folded his arms, and waited patiently for her explanation.
After a long, drawn out sigh, it came. "Look, last night --"
"I can't offer you any explanations about what happened," he cut her off, hotly. "There are things here that just --"
Lois cut right back. "Lurking behind it's a hum drum veneer this town Weirdsville, USA. I get it. I'm not searching for answers to the yesterday's events. I'll leave the investigative crusades to my cousin." She arched an incredulous eyebrow. "Besides, you're probably the last person I would assume had any insight into this place's Twilight Zone tendencies."
"Then what are you searching for?"
He watched her wearily as she took a minute to scan the loft. Suddenly she brightened as she zeroed in on something just beyond him. Lois moved closer, biting her lower lip as she bridged the already small gap between them. Her eyes remained glued to his as her hand reached out slowly, and slipped by him, lightly brushing his side as it did.
Clark stood frozen, a lungful of air burning his chest and his heart pulsing in his throat as she fished through the haystack behind him. After what seemed like an eternity, she finally drew it back.
"This. It's my favorite one."
As the lacy black bra dangled from her finger between them, Clark began to realize that life was full of surprises.
She smiled; half embarrassed, half smug. Completely Lois.
"Hell of a party, huh, Smallville?"