Seven Minutes

"I swear, small town teenagers are a danger to society when they're bored," Lois declared, glaring at the small index card in her hand. "I don't know why I let Chloe talk me into this," she continued, muttering underneath her breath.

Clark shrugged and stuffed his hands into his pockets. "It was your idea to begin with," he countered.

Lois tucked the card back into the envelope and flicked it toward him like a Frisbee. She smirked as he fumbled to catch it after it collided with his chest.

"No, my idea was to come to the Great Plains Mall for a scavenger hunt… you know the kind that involves shopping. 'Step 1: Find a novelty tee at Vintage Blue that matches the really hot skirt Lois bought last week. Step 2: Find matching shoes,'" Lois listed, holding up a finger with each statement. "My idea had nothing to do with playing party games at the biggest mall in the surrounding 5 states."

Clark grinned and followed her as she began merging into the pedestrian traffic of the mall walkway.

Lois gestured to their surroundings. "800,000 sq ft of retail bliss… carpeted retail bliss, mind you… and we're playing Pin the Tail on the Mannequin."

Clark lengthened his stride so he could catch up enough to walk beside her. "Chloe and Pete were the ones that got that assignment…" he corrected with a chuckle.

Lois cut her eyes at him. "Don't edit my tirades, Smallville. I won't be responsible for what I do to you."

Clark fought to hide his mirth. He was having a good time. The gang had driven out to Olathe, KS to visit the new mall and had picked Pete up from Wichita State on the way.

The trip had started out as a shopping expedition planned by Lois when she learned that Lucy was coming in town for the long weekend. Chloe had planned on driving in from Metropolis to meet them, and later the invitation was extended to include Lana. The girls had all been ecstatic over the idea and Clark had been looking forward to one peaceful weekend without having to fight for bathroom space.

Then the Shopaholics (as Clark had started to call them) found out that their plan had one fatal flaw. No one had a vehicle that would be able to hold all of them, plus all of whatever it was that they intended to buy.

That is when they tag-teamed him. Even though Lucy hadn't yet arrived in town to add her flare to the punch, the three of them were quite effective. They needed someone to drive the truck… namely him. When he refused, they played dirty. They went to his Mom.

They won his mom over with a sob story about the dangers of four young women traveling alone on a long stretch of highway heading northeast. That, and they promised her an outfit. His mom had sold him out for fabric.

The negotiations had gone into the eleventh hour before they were able to come to a compromise. Clark called Pete, and Chloe promised to make it a night the guys could stomach. Which was how Game Night at the Great Plains Mall had been birthed.

Lois and Clark paused in front of a marquee showing the race-track like layout of the mall.

"We're right here," Clark remarked, pointing to the red dot on the map.

Lois shook her head. "You don't say…"

White text inside the red dot he was referring to declared the same information. "I'm in a mall, playing National Treasure with Captain Obvious as my trusty sidekick." The twinkle in her eye belied her complaint.

She reached out and tapped a purple rectangle. "This is it…" They were looking for the location of their next challenge. "Family WC. I wonder what it is going to be this time."

Lois darted into the crowd. Even though she would rather be shopping, she was a competitor – and determined to win. Clark rolled his eyes and moved to follow. It was just his luck that he had drawn Lois's name out of the hat. They always seemed to get stuck with each other.

Earlier challenges had included a game of Musical Massage Chairs in the Sharper Vision store, a camera phone Celebrity Look-a-Like scavenger hunt, a hilarious version of Flag-Tag, and a Race to the Summit on the Rock Wall at the PlayWerks Arcade. The points were close, and now the teams had separated to complete the last obstacles. Any team that had to be escorted off the premises by security would be instantly disqualified.

Lois flipped her phone open when she heard it beep, and accepted the photo. The images of Lucy and Lana grinned up at her.

"Too easy," she smirked. "Of course they would get the only challenge that involved anything close to shopping."

The 'L & L Connection', as Lucy and Lana had dubbed their team, had drawn the card that sent them off trying to find the clothing items that matched the photos in their envelope. The trick was that each item was from a different store… throughout the entire mall. From the looks of the photo- it hadn't been a problem.

Lois showed the photo to Clark before saving it next to the photo of Pete and Chloe pointing to the rear ends of a line of mannequins. She and Clark were going to be the last to finish, and she was going to make sure they went out with a bang.

Clark frowned as they stopped at the entrance to a hallway. "Family WC is not a store?"

Lois's eyes narrowed. The hall led to restrooms.

At the end of the hallway, 5 closed doors with knockers faced them. The sign on the wall next to one of them announced that they were "family style" restrooms complete with a changing station and loveseat for nursing mothers. On door number 5, a familiar looking envelope was taped to the knocker.

Lois glanced at Clark to see if he was just as clueless as she was but he wasn't paying attention. His head was cocked to the side and his brow was furrowed. The first time she'd seen him do that, she'd thought he'd gone Sybil on her. She now knew from experience that it was his 'thinking' pose- he'd snap out of it in a minute. Sometimes she wondered if he was really contacting the Mother Ship during those lapses.

She snatched the envelope off of the door and stepped inside, dragging the dazed farm boy behind her.

"Uh, Lois… I don't think we should do this…" Clark warned as he stumbled into the room behind her.

Lois scanned the room and turned to face him. "Why? It's just a bathroom, Kent." She tore the flap on the envelope and reached inside for the index card.

Clark grimaced at the look on her face when she read their challenge.

"You've got to be kidding me…" she muttered.

Just as he was about to respond, his hearing kicked in again.

"Okay, they're in," he heard Chloe say. "I'm turning the camera on now."

"Too bad we won't have sound. I would love to hear their reactions when they open that envelope," Lana chimed in.

"Knowing my sister- we'll hear it, all right," Lucy added, laughing mischievously.

"Shh!" That was Pete. His voice was quieter than the rest. Clark unconsciously squinted while trying to tune out other sounds so he could hear. "If they hear us, we're dead where we stand."

The girls laughed. "There's no way they'll hear us," Chloe disagreed, although she quieted to match Pete's tone.

"Did you hear anything I just said? Will you snap out of it!"

Clark blinked and straightened his posture. "Sorry."

Lois studied him for a minute. He was so weird sometimes. Somehow it worked for him. "Seven Minutes in Heaven," she declared, holding the card in the air. "Who added perverse Junior High School games to the list?"

Clark's imagination drew up an image of himself in at a party in 7th grade, out of place and awkward. He blushed at the thought and tossed his jacket over the baby changing station… and covered the small wireless camera that had been positioned in the corner.

The action was met with a resounding chorus of Aw's from the three girls in one of the neighboring rooms.

"Damn," he heard Pete say.

Lois was oblivious to the disappointment of their would-be audience, but she had noticed the flush on Clark's face. "Relax, Smallville. We get the picture, and we go." She was never one to back down from a challenge.

"Um, maybe we should talk…" Clark frowned. He wondered how he was going to let Lois in on the secret plans of their friends.

Lois misunderstood his discomfort. "You have played this game before, right?"

Clark faced her with wide eyes. The truth wasn't very flattering, but that wasn't the point.

Lois's lips curled at his expression. "The Crow's star quarterback was never cornered in a closet?" She couldn't help but tease him.

Clark avoided the topic. "I think we're being set up…" he offered.

Lois's first reaction was to scoff, but her head tilted in thought as she weighed his theory. "Why would you think that?"

Clark rubbed his hands together, taking some comfort from the fact that while he could hear the conversations of the Instigators down the hall, they couldn't hear what he and Lois were saying. "I, um, overheard something… earlier…"

"Oh?" One of Lois's eyebrows arched inquisitively. A few seconds later the smirk was back. "Lucy. What did she say?"

In the game of war between sisters, any opportunity for one-upmanship was reveled - even in spite of how their relationship had grown close over the past year and a half.

Clark could have repeated it word for word, seeing as he had just heard it. Instead, he shrugged. "I forget… exactly."

In his mind he pieced it together. Pete.

Pete had been in on the evolution of Clark's feelings for Lois from the start. The emails that had gone back and forth were a testament to that. Pete must have spilled to Chloe… who then shared it with Lucy, or Lana… or both.

Now, his friends were trying to hook him up… and he wanted nothing more but to click his heels and pretend it wasn't real. He wasn't sure whether to be embarrassed or relieved that he and Lana were at a place where she would feel comfortable about setting him up.

Lois was still trying to fill in the blanks as far as motivation for a set-up was concerned. "Chloe's in on it too?" She rolled her eyes at the thought of Lucy's involvement. Little sisters lived for the day they would make their big sisters fall on their asses.

It didn't make any sense to her. "Why would this be awkward?" she asked Clark, genuinely puzzled. "I mean, we live together. We practically sleep in the same bed…"

When Clark's face paled, she laughed and waved dismissively. "…When I'm not in it, I mean… you know what I mean." She fiddled with the phone, pressing buttons to get the self-timer ready. "Come on, Kent. Let's give them what they want."

Clark took a step back when she moved close. "Lois, I'd rather not," he stammered, swallowing.

She shot him a dirty look. "If we don't do this, we lose. I don't lose." She took a step toward him. "Look- it's no big deal. Just a smooch and it's over. It'll be like kissing your sister."

Clark knew that was a lie. He didn't see Lois as a sister. Not even close.

Lois could see that he wasn't breaking, so she turned on the charm. "Clark," she began, using his real name as part of her ploy. "It won't be bad, I promise. Sure, it sucks but at least there aren't any feelings here- Because that would make it awkward. I don't even know why they thought this would be a set up. I mean what were they expecting?"

Her babble faltered when she saw him reach for the door. She reached out and grabbed his arm to stop him. "What are…?"

When he faced her she knew.

"Oh." There were feelings after all. "Oh," she repeated, her voice a little higher. She abruptly realized that she was still holding his arm… a muscular one at that… and pulled her hand away. And then, for lack of anything better to say, she inhaled, and said, "Oh."

Clark knew he was busted and dropped his head, embarrassed. "I know you want to win… but I don't think I can go through with it…" He suddenly felt as if the year that they were apart in ages had instead become ten. The room seemed incredibly hot.

Lois hadn't realized that she was retreating until she backed into the basin. Clark's hand reached for the door again.

"Well… wait," she said uncertainly. "Shouldn't we talk, or something?"

Clark willed the floor to open up. It seemed as if they had been in there forever. "Look Lois, I know you see me as a kid, even though I'm not, I just… really want to disappear right now. So can we, maybe, forfeit this time?"

Lois smiled at his honestly, and took a moment to study him appraisingly. This was Smallville, Farm Boy, Kent… he was right, she did see him as a kid. But he was right about something else- he wasn't one. She had thought their rapport was just friendly affection, but now, as she thought about it…

She didn't have any other friends with that same level of intima… scratch that, she ordered herself.

But it did deserve some more investigation. Later.

Unconsciously, while in thought, Lois licked her lips- a seductive move that had Clark pulling at his collar.

"Okay," she agreed, smiling again as Clark's relief became apparent. "I'll take care of it."

He turned and pulled open the door, practically dashing to get outside.

"Your jacket," Lois called out, picking it up from the changing station. Then she saw the camera.

Lois kept moving as if she hadn't seen it, but her eyes narrowed dangerously once her back was to it. She followed Clark into the corridor.

"Well, it's about time!" Lucy shouted in mock exasperation as Lois stepped out of the bathroom. "You were in there for so long, we thought we would have to pick the lock."

Lois walked over to Chloe and handed her the envelope.

"I'm afraid we're going to need some proof that you completed the challenge," Lana commented, holding her phone up. "We showed you ours!"

Lois took in the faces of the three other girls with a smirk. Chloe was so full of amusement that her eyes were smiling. Lucy's gaze was challenging. She was on pins to see the moment when her big sister admitted defeat.

Lois raised her chin and flicked her hair over her shoulder with a quick neck move. Spinning on her heel, she strode over to Clark and placed a hand on the back of his neck. Her fingers snaked into his dark tresses as she pulled him down to mesh her lips with his.

Clark's surprise evaporated quickly and his hands bracketed her waist for a moment before he wrapped his arms around her, pulling her closer.

The peanut gallery that consisted of their friends was shocked into silence, but it wouldn't have mattered if they had made noise, because both Lois and Clark had become consumed by their embrace.

The kiss deepened as tongues requested entry and tangled. They wrestled, tightly locked in one another's arms until the brief pauses they had taken for breath failed to be enough. A full seven minutes after they had begun, Lois pulled back, her breath soothing against his slightly parted lips.

"I don't lose," she whispered.

Clark was still dazed but he recognized the twinkle in her gaze and the arched eyebrow. That smug expression was one of his favorites. He was reluctant to let her go when she pulled away.

Lois turned to their Peeping Toms. "Live is much better than a picture, don't you think?" She smiled and began walking down the hallway toward the main mall area.

Lana giggled and ran to catch up with Lois. "Let the shopping begin!" she announced, linking elbows with her.

Chloe dashed into the bathroom to get her camera. "Actually Luce, I think now's a better time to say 'It's about time,'" Chloe said, laughing.

Lucy shook off her bewilderment and grabbed Chloe's hand so they could catch up to the other two girls. She couldn't help being impressed by Lois. She was her big sister, after all. There was no need to dispute who had won this time.

Pete patted Clark on the back, shaking his head at the goofy grin on his friend's face as they watched the girls walk away. Pete liked Lois Lane more and more every day.

He shot a sidelong glance at Clark. Lois had turned the most powerful person he knew into putty. Clark had no idea what he was in for.

"Come on, man," Pete said with a grin. He walked a few steps before turning to walk backwards, beckoning to Clark with a hand. "Let's go."

Clark looked down the hall at his friends. He saw Lois look over her shoulder and wink.

He was beginning to think that everybody had won after all.

- FIN -

A/N: This was a response to Rapierhomme's 4th challenge as posted over at the Forever Devoted to Clois MB's. Hope you likey!